MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Big changes are coming for student athletes in Tennessee, and it’s created a lot of concern.
With basketball season weeks away from tipping off across Tennessee, the focus for some has shifted to what’s happening off the court.
In a regional coach meeting with the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association, Joshua Heard, an attendee and basketball coach, says a handout was passed around illustrating what types of hairstyles are appropriate for competition.
“They were in shock,” Heard said. “This picture just demonstrates, just targeted one group.”
Earlier this year, TSSAA passed a rule stating that adornments made of hard materials are allowed as long as they are securely fastened close to the head and don’t pose a risk to the player, teammates or opponents.
The illustration is not only sparking concern among coaches, but state leaders as well.
“It made me angry when I saw the images because these are high school, middle school kids that are being told how they wear their hair and how they look is not appropriate,” said state Senator Raumesh Akbari.
Akbari, who was instrumental in the passing of the CROWN Act in Tennessee, which bans hair discrimination in the workplace, says this new rule by the TSSAA has her deeply concerned.
“I definitely plan to reach out and kind see what’s going on, and how does this comply with the CROWN Act and, is this discriminating against athletes in a way that might make them not wanna play sports,” Akbari said.
WREG has put in a request for comment from TSSAA about the new rule and is still waiting to hear back from them.