A long hair ban has removed one 16-year-old from his little league baseball team, and the decision is stirring up a number of critics in the community of Pincher Creek, Alberta.
Coach Bryan MacKenzie isn’t making many friends with his call to eliminate Liam Nazarek from competing on the Pincher Creek Dust Devils baseball team. Described by the Pincher Creek Echo as a “crusty, bad-tempered relic from a less tolerant era,” the 45-year-old MacKenzie claims his decision “isn’t about hair, long or short,” but “rules and respect.”
“I have a rule on my baseball team, and I’ve had the same rule for the past six or seven years — I tell the kids, have your hair at respectable length, and look like ball players,” MacKenzie told the Echo.
MacKenzie claims to believe “in a time when rules meant something, and kids weren’t all treated as precious individuals with a right to question every order.”
“I guess I’m old school, you bet. Why does it matter? Because I’m trying to teach these kids about some character, and some life skills,” he said. “This isn’t about catching a ball — it’s about getting along on a team, and about being respectable young people, and to be able to cope in life, because you’re always going to be dealing with rules and people.”
For the past seven seasons, MacKenzie claims, every kid but one has agreed to the policy. Nazarek? Not so much.
The young man defied MacKenzie’s long hair ban and has been told he could not be on the team until he cuts off his red locks. Nazarek claims to have a good reason for not wanting to. He stated that it was his goal to grow his hair out and eventually cut it all off so he could donate it to a company that makes cancer wigs.
MacKenzie admits it’s a noble cause, but adds that Nazarek “failed to mention it” to him when he was initially informed of the long hair ban.
Kimberley Jorgenson, Liam’s mom, is furious. She recorded the debate between parent and coach, and posted it to social media, the Echo reported.
Jorgenson argued that hair length is “not part of baseball,” to which the coach said, “it’s part of my baseball, and if you want to coach, there’s the team.”
To the cause of the cancer charity, MacKenzie said, “You could have mentioned that to me last Thursday night, that it was the reason. I’m not going to say that it was going to make any difference, but if that was the reason last night, it should have been then too.”
(To see more from the confrontation, check out Jorgenson’s Facebook video post.)
This isn’t the first cancer-related hair ban we’ve seen lately. At the end of March, a boy wore a pink mohawk to support his mom, who had breast cancer. His school responded with a ban, and the last reported news was that they stuck to their guns on the issue.
What do you think about a long hair ban? Do teens need to learn to follow rules and respect the wishes of their teachers and coaches, or should exceptions be made for worthy causes?