Chris Carroll made a difficult decision when he chose not to compete in his senior season for the Presque Isle High School ski team instead of shaving his beard.
He should be respected and commended for doing so, and while it’s one that I don’t agree with because I feel competing on a high school team is a privilege and not a right, it’s a bit upsetting that an overly stringent policy is in place and the Presque Isle school district seems unbending in considering to change it.
In a story by the BDN’s Jen Lynds on the issue, Presque Isle Superintendent Gehrig Johnson said there are no plans to change the policy.
“This is the way athletes represent our school. Our athletes are volunteers, and are held to a higher standard. They are role models,” Johnson said. “They are expected to adhere to the policy, which may be more stringent than other schools, I admit, but they represent our district. They wear sports coats and ties to games, for example. But if you do not want to go along with it, you do not have to play.”
Johnson and the Presque Isle school board may want to evolve a bit and take another look at the policy in its 2014-15 Student Parent Handbook that sets “reasonable standards for the appearance of participants. This includes but is not limited to length of hair, facial hair, visible tattoos, visible body piercing, and wearing of jewelry and hats.”
A simple amendment could also include “length of facial hair.” That could be a good compromise and as the photo of Carroll shows, he certainly follows that standard.
Competing in high school sports is a time to be relished. Working with teammates toward a common goal, making lasting friendships, learning lessons beyond the classroom and the chance to compete will all positively influence a student-athlete.
Carroll certainly had these experiences in past seasons, but it’s unfortunate that he missed more of the same for his senior season. From a parent’s perspective, however, the measure of pride for standing by a difficult decision is easily equal to that of a season of athletic competition.