8-year-old ordered to remove numbered football jersey by school
posted at 12:42 pm on September 14, 2012 by Howard Portnoy
What do 13, 14, 18, 31, 41, and 81 have in common? No, they were not the winning numbers in last night’s Powerball. In fact, those numbers are downright unlucky.
Just ask 8-year-old Konnor Vanatta, a student at Monfort Elementary School in Denver. Last week Konnor was told to remove the jersey he was wearing because it had the number 18 imprinted on the front and back. The order was given not because the school has a problem with Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, who wears the official NFL jersey on which this one was modeled.
The problem, rather, is that some might associate the number 18 with the 18th Street gang, a Denver street gang. Some might also associate it with football, especially when it appears on an orange short-sleeve replica jersey like the one Konnor wore to school, but logic goes out the window when it comes to zero tolerance.
Other numbers that are verboten by the district are 13 (worn by Denver wide receiver Tyler Grisham, also the street gang Sureños) and 14 (wide receiver Brandon Stokley and the Norteños), as well as those three numbers with the digits reversed: 31, 41, 81.
“It was absurd to me. I was shocked,” Konnor’s mom Pam told CBS 4 Denver. “I was speechless.” Fortunately for this story, district spokesman Roger Fiedler was not speechless. He told The Denver Post that before this incident there was never an issue made about the strict dress code. “Since we did put this in place, we have had a reduction in the reports or incidents of students displaying gang attire and affiliation.” To which one might respond, what of it? The statement is akin to saying, “Since I dyed all of my shoes brown, I have been wearing nothing but brown shoes.” (Speaking of color, red and blue shirts are also on the don’t-wear list, since those hues are associated with, respectively, the Bloods and Crips.)
Pam Vanatta says she appreciates the school district’s concern but believes the prohibition goes too far by imposing it upon elementary-school-age kids. She adds, “When they are counting and when they’re learning their numbers, are they going to make them skip 14, 13, 41, 81, 18 when they are counting? It’s getting ridiculous.”
She is of course ignoring, overlooking, or unaware of the widespread practice, rooted in superstition, of numbering the 13th floor in high-rise buildings 14 and continuing sequentially from there. But who knew that that practice was a response to the Sureños?
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