Poudre School District has denied the Fossil Ridge High School football team’s request to individually honor fallen members of the U.S. armed forces.
The team hoped to memorialize those fallen service members by wearing their last names across the back of their uniforms in place of their own names, but the district won’t allow it.
The district’s decision comes after three months of military education by the team and ongoing requests for approval.
Fossil Ridge players had requested the school outfit the team with camouflage uniforms this season. Coach Brian Tinker required his team to undergo military training and education, including CrossFit activities and a rock walk. In addition, every player was required to research the family and background of a deceased member of the armed forces.
The uniforms will be worn on military appreciation night Oct. 15 vs. Legacy. They were purchased by the booster club.
A final plea was made Wednesday morning by Lt. Colonel Randy Russell of the U.S. Air Force Reserve, a parent of a Fossil Ridge player, who met with PSD Executive Director of Communications Danielle Clark.
Russell said Clark’s message to him was that the district was concerned that allowing this instance would open the door for teams to honor organizations other than the military in similar fashion.
A prepared statement by the district said, “PSD cannot comply with this request without giving other causes the same opportunity. Unlike the National Football League, which can use uniforms to support specific causes, public high schools do not typically use school property, such as team jerseys, in this manner.
“As a publicly funded agency, PSD respects the diverse opinions of our community. Thus, the district does not support any one cause over another. PSD policy regarding this matter is intended to protect students from being used for promotional purposes. However, students may support causes through their First Amendment rights.”
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