FIBA, also known as the International Basketball Federation and body responsible for governing professional basketball worldwide, has today formally validated a decision to allow players to wear headgear on court.
Practically, this means that basketball players are now allowed by the rules to wear religious garments like turbans, yarmulkes and the hijab. This is super cool.
The FIBA website lists a number of provisions for allowable headgear, including that needs to be black or white or the same colour as the uniform, that it must not cover any part of the face, and that it can’t pose a safety hazard to the player wearing it or to others on the court – y’know, sensible shit that means everyone can play the damn game, regardless of creed.
A statement from FIBA on the decision says in part:
“The new rule comes as a result of the fact that traditional dress codes in some countries, which called for the head and/or entire body being covered, were incompatible with FIBA’s previous headgear rule.”
It’s likely that FIBA is referring to an incident in 2014, when the Qatar women’s basketball team withdrew from the 2014 Asian Games because they weren’t allowed to wear head coverings on the court.
Hate to get all sappy about it, but this kind of stuff really embodies the whole “everyone gets a go” attitude of massive sports events like the Olympics. It’s a landmark decision for a game that’s wildly popular throughout the world, and one that will continue to make international sporting competition a genuinely even playing field.
And now, thanks to a small change in the rules, religious girls and boys from hundreds of countries can now add “professional baller” to the list of things they want to be when they grow up.