Poudre School District says no to football team’s request to honor military

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FORT COLLINS, Colo. — The Poudre School District has denied the Fossil Ridge High School football’s team’s request to honor fallen members of the U.S. military by wearing uniforms with those soldiers’ last names instead of their own.

According to The Coloradoan, Fossil Ridge players had undergone three months of military education, including CrossFit activities and a rock walk, in accordance with coach Brian Tinker’s wishes.

He also required them to research the family and background of a deceased member of the U.S. armed forces.

The team had requested to wear camouflage uniforms and replace their last names with those of fallen soldiers during a game on military appreciation night Oct. 15 against Legacy High School. The uniforms were purchased by the high school booster club.

PSD released a statement on its decision:

Poudre School District and Fossil Ridge High School value the commitment and sacrifice of our military.

As such, the district and school are working to find ways to honor military heroes.

The request from a parent to place names of select fallen military members on the back of Fossil Ridge High School football jerseys is admirable. However, 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.

We regret that the intentions of the district and school were misconstrued and mischaracterized as unpatriotic. PSD shares the community’s value of honoring those who dedicate their lives in service to our country and looks forward to recognizing the contributions of veterans at our schools this year.

The Colorado High School Activities Association, which oversees high school athletics in the state, has policies that limit teams to a 4-square-inch memorial patch on uniforms, the same policies as the National Federation of State High School Association.

CHSAA assistant commissioner Harry Waterman told The Coloradoan the organization does not prohibit a team from placing a player’s name — or anyone’s name — on the back of a jersey.

He added CHSAA hadn’t before seen a team wish to memorialize anyone by placing their name on the back of a jersey and was unsure how the organization would handle the situation.

CHSAA permits the names of corporate sponsors to appear on high school athletic uniforms.

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