LA Girls' Basketball Team Disqualified for Wearing Pink for Breast Cancer Awareness

Top-seeded high school team had to forfeit a win because of illegal uniforms.

March 3, 2015, 2:49 PM

— -- A girls' high school basketball team was forced to forfeit a semi-final playoff win because the team wore pink letters and numbers on its jerseys to support breast cancer awareness.

The organization that oversees Nathaniel Narbonne High School's team in the Harbor City area of Los Angeles has strict rules regarding team colors. So now, Narbonne is appealing a decision that forced the team to forfeit a 57-52 win on Saturday against View Park Preparatory Accelerated Charter High School.

"Uniform colors may only be a combination of the official school colors. Pink is not a school color at Narbonne. Penalties will include probation and forfeiture of contents," the California Interscholastic Federation's Los Angeles City Section said in a statement, according to ABC station KABC in Los Angeles.

Team members were taken aback by the decision that disqualified the team from title contention.

"I kind of thought it was maybe just a joke at one point in time until all the teammates started to say, 'No, this is serious.' It was very, very shocking to us," Narbonne senior guard Laticia Smith told KABC. "The punishment didn't fit the crime. You know, we feel like we really didn't know. We had no idea and if we had some type of warning, we would have never come on the court with those uniforms."

The approved colors of the top-seeded school are green, gold and black. Earlier in the school year, the North Hollywood High girls' volleyball team forfeited a match because it wore uniforms that were entirely black.

Pro teams have changed their colors based on a particular cause or group. For instance, NFL teams have approved use of pink gloves, cleats and wristbands for breast cancer awareness and, in the NBA, the Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors were allowed to wear red uniforms with Chinese lettering to celebrate Lunar New Year.

Narbonne's athletic director and principal were told of the violation during halftime and the decision to disqualify the team was made later, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The school is appealing the decision and a panel is hearing its case today, the Times reported.

The team hopes to play in the championship game on Saturday, KABC reported.

The California Interscholastic Federation's Los Angeles City Section did not respond to a request for comment from ABC News. The statewide California Interscholastic Federation said the issue is under the jurisdiction of CIF LA City Section's rule and not a CIF State rule.

Narbonne High School did not respond to a request for comment from ABC News.

The City Section gave some teams waivers to wear pink in their uniforms during breast cancer awareness month in October.

"If they are going to do something against our bylaws, they need to call us to request it," City Section commissioner John Aguirre told the Times.

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