An American basketball player accused Basketball Australia of “racial discrimination” for trying to enforce a rule that is no longer used elsewhere.
Melbourne Boomers star Tiffany Mitchell called Basketball Australia, saying they discriminated against her by asking her to tie her braids under a rule that no longer exists in world basketball.
After the first two games of her WNBL career, the 27-year-old American took to Instagram on Sunday after an email from the league threatened to keep players with long braids off the pitch unless ‘they don’t tie them up.
âI wanted to emphasize the following rule. Please make sure to pass this on to all players, âreads the email to the team’s GMs.
âIf a player (male or female) has braided hair and it comes out of his head when the head is moved, it can injure another player if he is hit by the braid. Due to the injuries that can be caused, players are not allowed on the field with free braids in their hair.
In a long caption along with photos of her on the pitch, Mitchell wrote that she had encountered “little to no problems” during her first month in Australia, “until last week. [when] I was faced with a situation which was clearly racial discrimination â.
Mitchell wrote that it was “clear that only black people in this league have this type of braid.”
âI’ve played all over the world, in all top leagues at the top level and my braids have never been a problem. When I approached Basketball Australia with the discomfort it caused me to read and hear about this email, they claimed it was a fiba [International Basketball Federation] rule, they were told to apply it, but later they came back because it was actually a fiba rule that wasn’t even in place anymore, âshe added.
“You can clearly see in the second photo before my first match the pain that I was still carrying because how do you apply a rule that is not even a rule anymore, the target that I felt I had in the back was indescribable (sic) but I’ve always played with all the disappointment (sic) I felt from Basketball Australia. ”
She thanked her teammates and the Boomers coaching staff for kneeling down during the national anthem ahead of Saturday’s game against the Southside Flyers, in protest against the rule.
âDid that change how I still felt inside the whole situation, no. But it reassured me knowing that the women I dress with every night had my teammate and I behind, âshe wrote.
âIt shows that we have a long way to go for equality all over the world.
“Unhappy that these conversations are taking place, but happy that Basketball Australia is being held accountable and realizes the ignorance that has been displayed in this situation.”
Basketball Australia said in a statement it has since “revised the rule” and removed it.
“The policy was found to be discriminatory and incompatible with Basketball Australia’s diversity and inclusion framework by the WNBL Commission,” the statement said.
âIt is also not applied in the WNBL, in other leading professional women’s leagues in the world or in international competitions such as the Olympics and the World Cup.
âTo this end, the WNBL Commission has removed the policy, with immediate effect.
“Basketball Australia apologizes wholeheartedly for any anguish and pain caused by this rule.”