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Most in poll oppose ban on hats at school games

By Steve Stewart· 340-2444

The Decatur Board of Education’s hat ban at high school basketball games is sending the wrong message about school safety, Tony Looney said.

The city’s high schools are safe, he said, but the ban will give the opposite impression at a time when military Base Realignment and Closure is bringing new residents to North Alabama.

He was commenting by e-mail on an online poll in which most voters opposed the hat ban, imposed last month in an effort to curb possible gang activity.

Asked whether they support the ban, 271 readers said no in the unscientific poll, while 127 said yes. The no votes were 68 percent of the 398 votes cast. People could vote from anywhere for two days.

Looney of Decatur is an Austin High graduate who has attended Austin and Decatur High basketball games for more than 35 years.

“I can think of no other policy that has been so ill-conceived, misguided and less thought-out than the no-hat ban,” he wrote. “... This
ongoing story has made it into newspapers all over the country. Is that what we want Decatur to be known for?”

Bob Slate of Decatur said he is “hair-follicle-challenged” and often wears caps, but “I do not see it as my God-given right. ... If caps promote gang-related activity, asking men to remove them for high school basketball games is a small price to pay for the increased safety of our children.” Defiant cap-bearers “are making a mountain out of a molehill,” he said.

Reasons for hats

David W. Kelley of Decatur called the hat ban unconstitutional. Even President Lincoln and legendary football coach Bear Bryant, who both wore hats, “wouldn’t be welcome at our schools’ games,” Kelley wrote.

Gary E. Foster of Decatur said some people, like him, are bald with skin cancer.

“The school needs to be considerate of hat wearers,” he wrote.

“They just might have a good reason for wearing hats like myself.

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