Alex Blaze

Football player not allowed to play because of the color pink

Filed By Alex Blaze | November 14, 2010 7:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living

This matter has been settled, but it's strange that wearing pink cleats to football practice was even a problem in the first place:

cleatsx.jpgAccording to the suit, filed last week in Simpson County Chancery Court, Mendenhall High School football coach Chris Peterson dressed down Coy Sheppard, a 17-year-old senior kicker, during an Oct. 8 football game for wearing the cleats.

When Sheppard arrived at practice the next week wearing the shoes, Peterson cut him from the squad, says Oliver Diaz, a former state Supreme Court justice representing Coy.[...]

The shoes were a present from Coy's 82-year-old great-grandmother, and he wore them in honor of his grandmother and step-grandmother, both cancer survivors, said his mother, JoAnne Sheppard. She said her son, who also plays soccer and works part time, has never been in trouble before.

Busy with soccer practice and his after-school job, Coy was not available for comment, his mother said. The coach, she said, "belittled" her son. "That's hard from someone you look up to," she said.

The coach said it wasn't about the shoes, but because Coy Sheppard refused to take them off when asked. It's hard to respond to such a stupid statement.

But did I say the matter was settled? It seems the coach isn't letting this one go:

A Mendenhall High School football player was not allowed to suit up in Friday night's game.

It's part of a continuing dispute over his decision to wear pink cleats. Coy Sheppard had sued the school after he was kicked off the team for wearing the cleats.

The school and Sheppard's attorney reached a settlement in which he was supposed to join the team for Friday's game.

Now attorney Oliver Diaz says he is considering an amended lawsuit seeking additional damages. The school district's attorney would not comment.

No one is really saying what this is about, but the first assumption people would make about a coach who has a problem with pink cleats is that he's gender policing his players pretty harshly. You have to wonder what else this guy is doing if he's really willing to kick someone off the team for wearing the color pink.

Either way, the school here isn't even explaining why they are so opposed to these cleats so that probably means there's no good reason other than the random association in America of pink with femininity.

It's strange how a culture that prides itself in being so advanced can work themselves into a real scare over the symbolic value of a color. If this story happened in Africa or Asia or Latin America we'd be treated to commentary about how superstitious the subjects of this story are, as a result of their lack of technology or contact with the outside world or poor educational system, and maybe some gasbagging around the machismo issues with something like "It's important for young men in their culture to be perceived as masculine and elders enforce sacred rules that young people recklessly flout."

But this is American in 2010 and a dude is bothered by a teen wearing the color pink. It's not that unbelievable and we're not all that different.

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Susanna Iris Astarte | November 15, 2010 2:09 AM

Do your homework. It was about 100 years ago when pink was the color for boys and blue for girls.
But none of that really matters. Who CARES what color the shoes were ? He could wear any color shoes he wants- and since he was honoring his elders with a particular color- the idiot coach was quite disrepectful. Men get breast cancer too.
Seems to me this coach has serious issues.
The entire school should be addressed and it should be explained to one and all that we should be afraid of colors. At orientation for my new school, the dean was joking about teasing macho guys for bringing their daughter's pink bookbags to class.
I did not care for that comment and quickly asked if the school had an anti-discrimination policy.
Then after orientation, I told that dean I was headed to our local community center to give them a copy of the movie BULLIED about a young man who was harassed at school for being gay.
That coach needs a lesson in civility, intellect, respect and common decency.

We may be overreaching with this one. We cannot jump to the conclusion that the Coach is gender policing or anything else.

The only thing that we can specifically conclude is that the coach did not want his player wearign the pink cleats that he was wearing to honour cancer survivors.

We can, logically conclude from this that the Coach is opposed to supporting cancer survivors

I am willing to leave it at only that level:

"Mendenhall High School Athletics Dept opposes supporting cancer survivors."

To my mind, that is even more devestating than accusing them of gender policing

I suspect it's even simpler than that, and the politics are on a purely individual level: the coach, for whatever reason, objected to the pink cleats. He lost. Now he'll find any excuse to harass the kid because, in the simplest terms, he's a jerk.

Angela Brightfeather | November 15, 2010 10:54 AM

Jerk is not the word, and it may be premature to say he is against pink because of gender association. But if I was that young man, I would have changed my case by wearing yellow cleats for the next game. If the coach won't let him wear yellow or perhaps red, white and blue cleats, then maybe he just doesn't like soccer players to begin with, which is often the case with many football coaches, because they feel they are in competition for good players.

But actually. Bottom line. Who really cares? There are much bigger fish to fry when it comes to gender discrimination. If we defended every case like this, we would be fighting windmills indefinitely.

Coy Sheppard is an American hero. I hope that the American Cancer Society, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, and the Avon Foundation and Breast Cancer Crusade will take notice of this brave young man and the stand he has taken on behalf of women and men whose lives are impacted by breast cancer. I hope that university admissions administrators nationwide will take notice as well.

Angela Brightfeather | November 15, 2010 10:36 PM

Kelley, I agree with you. But I would not like to bet my house on the fact that those other organizations, as de4dicated as they are, will take the time to fight for this young man's principals. But it will be interesting to seer if they rise to the occassion.