CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — A longtime referee is now banned from officiating in the City of Chesapeake following a questionable act over the weekend.
A young girl was singled out during a basketball game because of the color and texture of her hair.
Erica Guerrier, who coaches her daughter’s team, says she thought the referee was going to ask how long a timeout would be when she saw him walking across the court in her direction.
“He asked to speak to me and then he mentioned that one of the players, when she goes to the next level, she is going to have to do something about her hair,” she said
That player was her 10-year-old daughter, who is wearing a typical African American hairstyle, braids with blue weave woven in. The referee said it was against the rules.
“The Chesapeake official came and they had my daughter come over and he pointed to, I guess the point where her natural hair meets the hair that was braided in, and said he didnt know what that was, and I said that’s her natural hair,” she said. “Just to getting to the bottom of what are you talking about? There is no such rule, so why are you bringing this up in front of this girl that her only love is just to play basketball?” she said.
Guerrier’s daughter is passionate about basketball. She practices nearly five days out of the week, and it shows from all the trophies she’s collected.
So Guerrier was surprised that the referee made a spectacle of her hair, something she says was unecessary.
She says he continued to tell her she would have to do something about her daughter’s hair as she moves up in competition.
According to the Virginia High School League, hair is addressed in the rules, specifically rubber claws and elastic bands, but hair weave is not.
Executive Director Billy Haun says safety concerns state that a referee can prohibit players from playing if it is a safety concern, and it’s open to interpretation.
However, he doesn’t approve of the public nature in which the concerns about her hair were handled.
He believes the situation was not handled properly.
“If there were concerns about that young lady’s hair, that’s a conversation you have with a coach and with a player, and in this case as young as this player was, you have the conversation with the parent before the game starts, but not during the game. Somewhere private. That’s not something you do on the floor, during the game, before the game or after the game.”
The City of Chesapeake contracted the referee through the Hampton Roads Basketball Association.
The association’s commissioner, Rick Ennis, says the incident is under investigation and being “taken very seriously,” and the referee won’t be working games in Chesapeake in the future.