They never got to play in the Regional high School Championship game in Gaithersburg, Maryland on 3 March.
Instead, You’nan Hayes, who is Muslim and wears a headscarf, just sat on the bench and watched her team lose the coveted game.
Watkins Mill high School girls basketball coach Donita Adams stated that she is approached by the referee for the game.
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“He told me that my player could not play, due to what he referred to as, ‘headgear'” Adams said. “So we had a discussion, what are her options, because we had never been informed of this rule. She played all 24 games, and on the 25th game, they could not play, so I had to get a clarification on that point.”
Rules require a player needs a signed waiver to the wearing of a religious garment, but no one had ever asked for one in the other games where Hayes played.
After the game, when questioned, the Maryland Public Secondary School Athletic Association issued this statement:
“High school athletics in Maryland has a strong and stable tradition of providing safe, meaningful and equitable participation for students. Unfortunately, the officers a strict interpretation of the National Federation of State High Schools rules for basketball instead of the spirit of the rule designed to ensure safety and competitive fairness. There should be no denial of participation and we are committed to working with the school and the family to ensure that this does not happen again.”
Hayes team lost the championship game.
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