For years, Mokena Burros youth football players have worn pink athletic gear during October games to honor breast cancer survivors.
And in the NFL, October is the season where the pros go pink. Every player wears pink shoes, pink socks, pink wrist-bands and more throughout Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Boys and men might not always be fond of pink; October is the exception.
But Mokena Burros Athletic Director Sal Della Fave says the young Burros who play tackle football can no longer wear pink. In an e-mail sent to Burros coaches on Oct. 1, Della Fave placed strict limitations on what tackle players can wear.
Della Fave distributed small, pink stickers to be affixed to helmets, in the bottom left corner.
"This is the only approved addition to our uniform," he wrote in an email to tackle coaches sent Oct. 1. "No other pink item is to be added to the uniform ie. socks, laces, duct tape etc. I am holding each of you accountable to ensure compliance."
Any other pink apparel or gear would be considered a distraction, he told a former Burros mom, who shared the e-mail with Patch. Team members wearing non-sanctioned pink clothing or equipment would be barred from participation.
The Burros mom says the Burros board of directors did not vote to approve Della Fave's new policy.
“We’re a board,” said a source on the board, who asked not to be named. “We’re supposed to make decisions together.”
Under Della Fave's new rules, tackle players are now limited to wearing stickers and a specific type of glove with pink accenting, which is permitted because it does not touch the uniform.
Sal Della Fave did not return Patch’s request for comment.
Burros flag football players and cheerleaders are still free to enhance their uniforms with pink accessories.
The Burros 2012 Handbook states that any player with altered equipment or equipment not issued by the Burros cannot participate in practices or games. The handbook also states that jersey alterations are not allowed.
In the past, this rule has largely been ignored. Two years ago, when Burros players began to alter their uniforms during October, the team’s former athletic director told parents he did not have a problem adding pink to the players' uniforms for October.
Breast cancer awareness apparel is becoming increasingly popular in both youth and high school athletics, no doubt inspired by the widespread visibility of NFL players sporting pink on Sunday afternoons.
The Burros mom told Patch she felt the Burros had always handled the breast cancer awareness apparel appropriately, and that there are ways to keep it from becoming a distraction.
“I had not heard one complaint, ever,” she said.
Read past coverage of the Mokena Burros on Patch.
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