Dartmouth Indian: Can Student Athletes Opt Out of the Name and Logo?
Although the Dartmouth School Committee recently voted to keep the Indian name and logo, the possibility has been floated that student athletes that do find the Indian offensive could wear an alternate jersey or helmet.
It was a suggestion that was even brought up in the April 25 meeting in which the final decision was made on the Indian by a 3-1-1 vote. Committee member Kathleen Amaral, who voted in favor of keeping the Indian, also spoke in favor of giving students an option whether or not to wear the logo.
“I’d like to see us allow for student choice as to whether they want to have the logo on their uniform or warm-up gear,” she said. “I would also like us to consider no logo on away uniforms.”
So just how realistic is that possibility?
The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association is the governing body for high school sports in the Commonwealth, so we turned to them first to find out just how different uniforms could be among players on the same team.
Tara Bennett, Director of Communications for the MIAA, said the MIAA handbook “does not have specificity on sports uniforms,” but that uniform guidelines instead fall under the sport-specific rules of the National Federation of State High Schools Associations, or the NFHS.
NFHS regulations, however, only deal in the allowed color schemes, designs, font types and font sizes and don’t have any rules about whether or not they all have to say the same thing; for example, can one player wear a uniform marked “Dartmouth” if the rest are all wearing “Indians” jerseys?
Bennett said that “is a decision at the local level.”
“NFHS guidelines/rules for uniforms dictate more on the color and size of the logo, not the design,” she said. “For example, in soccer, the socks need to be the same color so if the team wants to acknowledge Cancer Awareness by wearing pink socks they may, however, all teammates need to wear the same pink socks, not some pink and others white or green.”
A longtime local high school game official recently called into WBSM and reiterated that as long as the team is all wearing the same color uniform, certain differentiations are fine.
“The simple way to figure it out is that, especially in sports like baseball or football, you have kids on freshman teams, on JV teams, with a different style of uniform. They’re the same colors, though,” he said. “You might bring up a kid for a specific game or have them sit on the bench, so at those times you would see two different uniforms and it’s totally legal, so long as the colors are the same. They don’t give them a varsity uniform, they just use their same JV uniform.”
He said schools that buy new varsity uniforms often hand down the old uniforms to the junior varsity teams.
“In those cases, the colors are the same but the design might be a little different,” he said. “It might be last year’s uniform if they bought new ones. It wouldn’t be consistent as far as the lettering goes, or the patches they might have on the sleeves, but as long as the colors are the same, you’re good.”
Helmets, however, may be a different story. Taking a look online, it appears varsity high school football helmets cost anywhere from $200 to $700 apiece, so it is unlikely two different helmets would be an option.
As Bennett pointed out, the decision must be made locally, so it will be up to the Dartmouth school administration to determine whether or not students can opt-out of the Indian.
Andrew Crisafulli, Athletic Director at Dartmouth High School, declined to answer any questions concerning the Indian logo.
“I believe a committee will be forming to address details and concerns moving forward,” he said.