Canadian 16-year-old Liam Nazarek was banned from playing with his baseball team, because he decided against cutting his hair that he had been growing out for a year to donate to a cancer charity. As reported by CBC News, the teen’s mother, Kimberley Jorgenson, recorded video of a heated exchange she had with the Pincher Creek Junior Dust Devils’ coach Bryan Mackenzie, and posted it to Facebook (watch the video here).
In the video the coach tells Jorgenson that Liam would not be allowed to play until he cut his hair. The mother is then heard arguing against the fairness of the coach’s decision and says, “It’s not part of baseball.” “It’s part of my baseball team.”
At one point in the video Ms. Jorgenson’s ex-husband comes into frame and tells the coach that he accepts the ruling saying, “You’re the coach so you make the decision.” The coach later explained that he feels his job is to develop his players’ character. "To me, the hair issue is part of the uniform…It's like the hat. It's like the jersey. It's all part of the appearance and that's important to me, to have respect for yourself and for your other teammates," Mackenzie told CBC News.
About the teen’s decision to keep his hair, Coach Mackenzie did recognize, “That’s fine and I totally respect that Liam. Okay, I do. I said it’s an admirable cause okay.” Still, Ms. Jorgenson is heard off camera asserting, “He’s in every other sport and he does well in every sport. His hair does not change that. His hair does not change his ability…Hair is not a rule in baseball.” To which Mackenzie replied, “It is for me. Accept it.”
Mr. Mackenzie has enforced the hair rule for all seven seasons that he’s coached and the decision to bench Liam was supported by the Pincher Creek Minor Baseball Association. In a statement in the Pincher Creek Voice, an unnamed executive from the organization wrote that the parent, “…manipulated the situation using social media. This is totally unacceptable if not only because it sets a terrible example for our children. There was no respect in this situation whatsoever.” The statement continues, "The board believes fully in the coach’s values and expectations for these boys. This isn’t a form of bullying or power tripping. It is a case of setting up expectations for a team and expecting everyone to try to live up to them.”
Liam has since been offered a spot playing on a team in a nearby town, but he has not yet decided if he will join them.