The sanctity of the varsity letter jacket

In Wichita, Michael Kelley, who has Down Syndrome and autism, plays on a school’s special needs basketball team.

His mom bought the young man a varsity letter jacket like other kids wear.

The principal made him remove it.

“Another parent, from what I am told, was upset that my son was wearing his letter jacket,” Jolinda Kelley tells KSN TV.

“It’s not just my son. It’s every student that was out there last night. It’s every student that’s there on Fridays that plays their hardest and to the best of their capability regardless what that is.”

(Video link)

There is, apparently, no district policy against kids wearing varsity letter jackets.

  • Brian Olmstead

    Do ANY school administrators THINK first?

    • As someone who worked for years in the administration offices of a very large school district – No, they don’t.

    • Bertha Vanation

      Here’s the BIG question. Did this poor kid’s Mom think? Instead of contacting the school, or the Athletic Director and explaining it would be meaningful for him; and seeing if they could come to some concession that would leave everyone involved unruffled, The issue occurred because she decided to just buy him a jacket and sew on a letter, and sending him on his way. I’m not blaming the kid, and in all honesty – how can people think that the administration is responding arbitrarily. They likely got complaints from young men and women who participate in Varsity level athletics; wondering when the recognition of their achievement(s) became a prize for any parent to hand out as they see fit (and for those who don’t seem to know, not all participants in every sport qualify for a Varsity letter. It’s one of those areas that hasn’t turned into “everyone gets a trophy for just showing up with a pulse” yet).

      And lets see, instead of contacting the school at the second opportunity to do so – Mom goes running to the news media to work things out. Because the most important thing when a crisis occurs with children and teens in America, is making sure that everyone else is to blame – NOT the parents. That’s just so mean! Making them be responsible? Who the heck came up with THAT idea? Nothing says “let’s work TOGETHER to firgure something out for the best interest of my child” like getting Fox, CNN and gawd knows who all stomping around. Getting your face on TV proclaiming your victimhood is the important thing… truly sad, and totally avoidable.

      • BJ

        Letters are not just given for Football. Was this basketball team a lettering sport?
        I got mine in student government. I’m very sure my school also gave them out to the special needs teams that competed against other schools.

  • crystals

    Pardon my language, but this is horseshit.

  • RodC

    I really hope this is a hoax or misunderstanding.

    • It sure doesn’t look like a hoax.

      One “technical” way around it – get a different sized letter for the front of the jacket.

      Back in the stone age when i was in HS, the “letter” awarded at my HS was one that was actually a different style and size than the ones that were affixed to the front of the jackets. the “letter award” was signified by pins on the front of the jacket’s letter. There were a couple different sized letters one could get for the front of one’s letter jacket and it really didn’t matter which one you got.

      It appears as though THIS school’s letter awards are the actual ones affixed to the front of the jacket.

      Get a different sized letter and that should alleviate all the “real” jock’s whining.

      /But I bet it won’t

  • Kassie

    In my high school the kids who played on what is called the adaptive teams wore their letter jackets because they were on a varsity sport and lettered. AS THEY SHOULD HAVE. Minnesota has a large adaptive sports high school league that is run through the MSHSL. I don’t think any schools see these teams any different than non-adaptive teams.

    Plus, at least in my high school, anyone could walk into the local sports store and buy a letter jacket. You just didn’t get the official letters unless you were on the team. Who would stop someone from showing school spirit and pride?

    • Kassie

      And things I personally lettered in: Boys Soccer (I was manager), Speech and Spanish Club.

      • Tim

        My school operated the same way. I numbered in several things myself as well, just not any sports.

        • I was on the high school hockey team and spent most of the time sitting on the bench. Back then, the rules said you had to PLAY at least a quarter of the teams games to get a letter sweater.

          As each game wound down to “zero” on the scoreboard in my senior year, the odds of me getting the sweater disipated. And when the season ended, I was short one game.

          At the sports assembly, though, I got the sweater. The coach, a former Boston College star, thought that showing up and practicing in the early mornings should count for something.

          I still have that sweater.

          It doesn’t really fit anymore but it’s a good reminder of an important time for me.

          This kid deserves the same thing.

          • Beverly

            Does Mrs. NewCut wear your sweater?

  • BeachN

    so I guess what the principal is trying to say is the feeling of being
    “SPECIAL” should only be allowed if you have the intelligence to play
    REAL ball? God forbid we hand over that feeling on a silver platter to
    someone who will never be as capable as the Varsity players. It’s just
    not right is it?? I would like to tell that principal to just walk a
    day in that young man’s shoes and understand what little it takes to
    make kids like Michael happy. I know first hand what it takes.. I have a
    mentally challenged son who has always wished he could be just like his
    “Normal” brother. Who the hell is this principal to tell him he cannot
    wear that jacket because he is not like the boys on the varsity team???

    • The telling story here is that a parent thought that this athlete’s wearing of a letter jacket somehow took away from the accomplishments of his/her kid.

      That’s some messed up parenting, there.

  • Jeff

    What’s the matter with Kansas?