Following a game in October, a 17 year old football player was disciplined for supporting breast cancer awareness. Placekicker Cory Sheppard was kicked off of the Mendendhall football team by Coach Chris Peterson for wearing pink cleats in a game and the following practice. The high school senior was counting on football credits to help him graduate and may not receive his diploma as a result of the coach’s actions. The school superintendent, Tom Duncan states that the player was not disciplined for supporting breast cancer awareness. He stated that he was kicked off the team due to insubordination because he was told not to wear the pink cleats again. Reportedly, Sheppard attempted to apologize for the incident in an attempt to gain reinstatement to the team. The apology did not result in his being placed back on the roster. Sheppard’s pink cleats were a gift from his grandmother who is a cancer survivor. As a result of his being disciplined for supporting breast cancer awareness, the teen has filed a lawsuit against the Simpson County School District. Sheppard’s incidence was not the only case for a player being disciplined for supporting Breast Cancer.
Canadian Football League player Jon Oosterhuis was also disciplined for supporting Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The Winnipeg fullback was fined $250 for violating the league’s uniform policy by wearing pink gloves in a game against Toronto. There may have been more fines, but only Oosterhuis’s has become public. The CFL’s stance against allowing players to wear pink in games has been met with heavy criticism from its Canadian fan base. The CFL does allow players to wear pink in practice, but has prohibited them from wearing the colors in games.
There are many things that teens are doing today that require swift an immediate attention by school officials. A teenager being defiant to a teacher is nothing new. However, to jeopardize this child’s possible graduation for supporting a good cause could result in absolute loss of respect by the children of this district. To have a player disciplined for support of breast cancer awareness could also become a public relations nightmare, not to mention that it tells kids that you can be punished for doing a good deed if it’s not one we approve.