Cross Country runner disqualified for competing with hijab

Another coaching blunder. Both the coach and AD should have know she needed a waiver.

SYLVANIA, Ohio (WTVG) -
A member of the Sylvania Northview Cross Country team was disqualified from a district meet because her hijab was deemed in violation of the league's uniform policy.






"I felt embarrassed that I'd just ran this whole race and everyone on the sidelines knew that I was disqualified except for myself and the people I was running," Noor-Alex Abukaram said. "I felt like I'd been punched...like I got hit really hard"


According to a representative from the Ohio High School Athletic Association, runners are allowed to run with a hijab, but they must have a waiver from OSHAA granting permission, something the runner in question did not have.


In a statement to 13abc, the representative says, "Neither the runner, nor the coach, nor the school had submitted the waiver yet. The official was simply enforcing the rule. The school has now submitted the waiver, so the runner can run this weekend at regionals while wearing a hijab. We are also looking into her previous races to see why the officials let her run without a waiver in the events leading up to the district meet."





A representative from Sylvania Schools, in a statement to 13abc, says, "The athlete’s attire had not come into question at all previous competitions. The coach learned of the disqualification at check-in before the race. In order to be respectful of her religious views, he did not ask her to remove her hijab. Due to the disqualification, the coach requested that OHSAA acknowledge which rule was violated. The coaching staff has been in contact with the OHSAA to ensure her eligibility that allows her to wear her hijab in future races. We are happy that this valuable member of our team will be competing this weekend. "
Toledo TV 13
 
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Mr. Slippery

Well-known member
According to the article someone forwarded me from the Blade, the coach obtained the proper paperwork but didn't expect to need it because he hadn't been asked to produce it at any other meets this season and couldn't produce it on Saturday to avoid the DQ. The coach admitted as much and accepted the blame for not having the paperwork on hand.

As I said in the Centerville thread, just when you think nothing will go wrong, it does.

The runner will be racing again on Saturday as part of her team which advanced last weekend, so she'll have an excellent chance of recording a new official PR at Tiffin.

The exception to the rule exists, so that runners are not discriminated against on the basis of religion or medical condition, but the proper paperwork is necessary. Produce the proper paperwork in this situation, and it's a non-story. I don't see the need for a civil rights case to result from this, but we shall see.
 
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JAVMAN83

Active member
If the coach had the waiver, his fault for not carrying it to every meet. I kept rule books in my pockets when I coached. Came in handy a few times, and thank goodness I had them at the time I needed them.
 

ccrunner609

Active member
The idea that you need a waiver for this is stupid and probably illegal. Can someone cite the "percieved advantage" that this headware provided?

I would bet that the OHSAA would lose in a court of law on this issue.
 

Denizen

New member
The idea that you need a waiver for this is stupid and probably illegal. Can someone cite the "percieved advantage" that this headware provided?

I would bet that the OHSAA would lose in a court of law on this issue.
I agree 100%...the coach, though, bears some blame. Our kids are always told they have to follow uniform rules in postseason even if they got away with some things during the regular season. Having said that, this is beyond ridiculous. And in general, OHSAA uniform rules are asinine, in all sports. And this violation, in particular, because I have to assume that if anything, wearing a hijab would slow you down a bit. Good for her for following her beliefs, even if they are different from mine.
 

psycho_dad

Well-known member
Who honestly would think this was a rule? I give the coaches some credit for even knowing it was necessary to have a waiver. We had a girl some years ago that ran track for us with a hijab. She was not varsity, so never ran in big meets or really even scored in duals, but it never crossed my mind that she couldn't wear what is essentially a hat. We may have had the waiver, but sure we were never asked to produce it. You need a waiver to wear a hat? A hat with a nike logo? How is it not possible to just have a quick meeting with coaches and ask if any of them object to the girl running? No objections? OK, she's good. They allow runners to wear a watch, but not a hat. It drives me nuts that they allow runners to race with a watch.
 
Mr Slippery I read that he has since submitted for the waiver and will have it for regional meet but did not have one at the time of district meet. Plus I don't understand her blaming the officials for not telling her it was her coaches decision not to tell her before the meet.

At that same meet I gave the officials the exact same waiver that was needed to allow a kid to wear a billed cap. Official thanks me and said he was good to run. I may not agree that a waiver is needed but the rule is in place so it needs to followed. A coaches job includes knowing the rules of their sport and included in those rules is the uniform.
 

hammer89

Member
It’s an NFHS rule, not really much the OHSAA can do. Anything that’s not part of the official team uniform requires a waiver. Coach didn’t have one. Now they do.

if anything, blame all the officials in the regular season who didn’t bring it up.
 

hammer89

Member
I’d point to the part about what constitutes a legal hat, Which may be a stretch to consider a hijab a hat, but that’s what I’d go with.

and of course this part

“A competitor who requires an exception to the uniform rules because of religious restrictions or otherwise, must submit a request for a variance from the OHSAA via e-mail (dgabor@ohsaa.org ). If the variance is granted, a written, signed approval of the variance must be presented to the referee prior to competition.”
 
I guess the big point would be whether or not a hijab requires an exception to the uniform rules. Where in the above uniform rules would you find language forbidding wearing a hijab (or any other non-billed non tasseled head-wear)?
 

hammer89

Member
Does the length of the hijab make it a “tail?” Then it would be illegal headwear for the “tail” being too long.

If we even agree it constitutes a hat in the first place. Certainly room for interpretation
 

mathking

Active member
The OHSAA could say that the hijab is an exception that does not require a waiver. Recall that for a number of years religious medals did not require a waiver, just that they had to be taped down. There is no good reason to require a waiver. There is no advantage gained, so the coach or athlete’s word should be sufficient.

The coach is responsible for knowing the rule, and has admitted it. That is clear.

The officials did not do a good job. They are explicitly supposed to be proactive now. They saw a shorts violation and not the hijab when the athletes checked in? Further thought made me realize they really were in a no win situation given the rules. If there had not been a shorts violation they could have come afterward and said "This is your warning" but as is their only other recourse would have been to not allow her to run at all.

It is still a bad idea for this to require a waiver in the first place.
 
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The OHSAA could say that the hijab is an exception that does not require a waiver. Recall that for a number of years religious medals did not require a waiver, just that they had to be taped down. There is no good reason to require a waiver. There is no advantage gained, so the coach or athlete’s word should be sufficient.

The coach is responsible for knowing the rule, and has admitted it. That is clear.

The officials did not do a good job. They are explicitly supposed to be proactive now. They saw a shorts violation and not the hijab when the athletes checked in?
They did see the violation at check-in. The talked to the coach and ask for the waiver he did not have one so they informed the coach she would be DQ'd. The coach made the decision to not tell her before the race.

I have no issue with doing away with needing the waiver next year but should they also do away with the waiver to wear a billed cap as that also gives the runner no advantage?
 

eastisbest

Well-known member
Even the parent knew.

Coach knew. Parent Knew. Guess which of those aren't "news?"

Neither.

What IS news?

Trying to pretend there's another racist system with titles of "disqualified for competeing with hijab" as opposed to "disqualified for inappropriate uniform."

Parents had an opportunity to take the high road with their 15 minutes. Looking like they see self-enrichment opportunity. Your coach withheld truth from her and she's not upset with him? She's upset with people who had NO role in her predicament? Another high road missed.
 
Parents didn't know. Coach had heard in previous years, but no rules meeting this year. This information is in every article.
Again, find the provision in the online uniform guidelines that prohibits the garment worn.

Even if it were in the above, rules can be on the books and still be biased and immoral. This seems ambiguous at best. Your argument of changing the words "competing with a hijab" to "inappropriate uniform" belie the inherent bias in this viewpoint.

None of the articles I read accuse anyone of acting in bad faith; merely lobbying to change an unnecessary and biased rule. That seems like a good lesson to teach your kids.
 
Everyone (coaches/Officials) has to view a rules meeting each year.
The link you provided state those rules

c) During inclement weather, Cross Country runners may wear the Navy Watch Style knit cap. The cap may have no bill, but may have a knit ball on top or a tassel or tail provided the tassel or tail is no longer than ½ depth or length of the cap. d) Headbands may be worn provided the headband is manufactured for that purpose. Rolled up bandannas or other articles are illegal.

and

5. Exceptions A competitor who requires an exception to the uniform rules because of religious restrictions or otherwise, must submit a request for a variance from the OHSAA via e-mail (dgabor@ohsaa.org ). If the variance is granted, a written, signed approval of the variance must be presented to the referee prior to competition.

I understand it is a rule that should not be there but it just doesn't make sense as to why society is making this as big of a deal as it is. There are so many article I've read on this now and every one is different and seem to be blaming the official and ohsaa. I am guessing the rule was actually put in place since hats are not allowed that they added the rule for religious wear to allow them to wear this with the waiver. So if the rule just read as c) above then it would not be allowed at all. It is amazing when you read comments from people that do not read any further than the headline and blast everyone.
 

mathking

Active member
There is almost no way that this would not be a civil suit. It means requiring members of a particular religion to obtain explicit written permission for a variance in the rules. When we had jewelry rules, religious medals had to be taped down but did not require a waiver. if you don’t see this as discriminatory, ask yourself what the reaction would be if it were some expression of Christian faith that required a written waiver? This doesn’t mean the OHSAA did something actively wrong. It means that they didn’t think it was a problem until it became one. The officials were in a bad spot because of the rule.
 

SMARTY22

Well-known member
Let's play CYA:
There was no rules meeting for cross country this year. If you're a lawyer (and I am certainly not) what specific part of these uniform regulations posted by the OHSAA would you point to in order to convince someone that she should have been disqualified?
Not having a Coaches Rules,Rule Changes and POE Meeting Every Year for Every Sport is just plain Stupid! Not having these Meetings is just asking for trouble and apparently they (OHSAA) found the trouble.
 

psycho_dad

Well-known member
Here is where I'd get in trouble if I was an official. I would have lost the waiver somehow. This should not be a lawsuit. This is just a "we are sorry, the rule will be change." Done.
 

XCFan98

Member
What about her shorts? I saw pictures online with her, and her shorts appeared to be in violation of the rules. What is the story on that? Large logo on the waistband.

I have found that many officials are not really that clear on the rules. Different rulings at the same meet from multiple different officials. Undergarments, headgear, logos, tights, etc. They all seem to be on a different page. At the state rules meeting for track there is even conflicting information from what I hear.
 

mathking

Active member
Does anyone else find it incongruous that there is a Nike logo on a hijab?
It is a hijab designed specifically by Nike for Muslim athletes. Oddly, that seems to really fit with the tone of the rules, that always seem to want clothes to be "worn as intended" by the maker.
 

Rohbino

Well-known member
Even the parent knew.

Coach knew. Parent Knew. Guess which of those aren't "news?"

Neither.

What IS news?

Trying to pretend there's another racist system with titles of "disqualified for competeing with hijab" as opposed to "disqualified for inappropriate uniform."

Parents had an opportunity to take the high road with their 15 minutes. Looking like they see self-enrichment opportunity. Your coach withheld truth from her and she's not upset with him? She's upset with people who had NO role in her predicament? Another high road missed.
And you appear to be another person trying to look for something that isn't there.

Am I missing something? Point to a source that states the parents are looking for a self-enrichment opportunity. I looked at several sources and didn't read that anywhere. I also saw nothing that indicated that the parents knew.

I'm Jewish and grew up familiar with most of the customs associated with the faith. I am from a Reformed family as opposed to Orthodox so some of our customs and observations are not as strict. A school not far from where I grew up is the Fuchs Mizrachi School. The school is an Orthodox Jewish school so the boys compete while wearing a yarmulke. To my knowledge they don't have a XC team but they do field a soccer team. Did those boys need the appropriate paperwork filed with the OHSAA in order to wear their yarmulkes while competing in a athletic contest? If not, why not? In this instance I can fully understand why discrimination might be considered.

If, indeed, the parents did know and were looking for a self-enrichment opportunity I would agree with you. I'm just not seeing it, though.
Nike recognizes the needs of Muslim athletes, where is the incongruity?
I thought that Termite's response was a bit ambiguous but I took it to mean that having the Nike logo on a hijab is incongruous with Muslim beliefs. I, too, feel that the Nike logo should be a little more inconspicuous.

The Quran and Hadith guide the Islamic guide the rules for life and relationships. Nike has been known as having a history of using inexpensive labor to make its products. Some would view that as a form of oppression or abuse. In Islam that would be considered harmful, or "haram", and would be forbidden by Islamic law.
 

Altor

Well-known member
To my knowledge they don't have a XC team but they do field a soccer team. Did those boys need the appropriate paperwork filed with the OHSAA in order to wear their yarmulkes while competing in a athletic contest? If not, why not?
Does soccer have a similar rule or modification regarding hats like the one that is in place for track and cross country? If not, that's why not. If they ran cross country with the yarmulkes, they should get a waiver.

Let's remember what this rule is about...because it's not about requiring religious people to get some kind of waver just for the sake of it. This rule was added years ago because athletes were showing up to the clerk with ridiculous headware and the final straw was when a baseball cap blew off an athlete and interfered with another during a major race. The rule modification was put in place to only allow the Navy-watch style cap (which aren't likely to blow off) in inclement weather. At some point, I'm sure somebody pointed out that people wearing yarmulkes and hijabs could be affected by this rule. So they added a way for the athletes to get an exemption.
 
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Rohbino

Well-known member
Does soccer have a similar rule or modification regarding hats like the one that is in place for track and cross country? If not, that's why not. If they ran cross country with the yarmulkes, they should get a waiver.
Altor, that thought crossed my mind after I made my post and of curiosity and I want to check the OHSAA rule book for soccer, when I have time, to see if head wear is addressed.

The 2019 Cross Country Manual for Coaches and Officials state these two things regarding head wear:

"During inclement weather, Cross Country runners may wear the Navy Watch Style knit cap. The cap may have no bill, but may have a knit ball on top or a tassel or tail provided the tassel or tail is no longer than ½ depth or length of the cap."

and

"Headbands may be worn provided the headband is manufactured for that purpose. Rolled up bandannas or other articles are illegal."

In terms of the argument here about the hijab, and has already been established, the coach should have sought a waiver for the athlete so shame on him for not doing so. If during a XC meet one of my sons would want to wear a yarmulke or a kippah or one of my daughters a kippah, not that they would, I would expect them to get a waiver allowing them to do so.

Another thought that crossed my mind had to do with some of the things that I've seen athletes wearing on their head during very cold weather. I have seen all sorts of things worn on the head during cold weather - ear muffs, heavy duty headbands that function more as something to keep the ears warm, etc. Look at the picture that is currently on the OHSAA website of the head wear on the female runner:



It sort of looks like a head band but the function of it is more to keep the ears warm. If I were a coach and had even the slightest doubt I would check with officials or, better yet, have my athlete wear something else.
 
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