Controversial FIBA headgear rule will be reviewed

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Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir was your typical college athlete.

The 5-foot-4 Memphis point guard embodied the American Dream, or at least, what it claims to be. As a Muslim girl in Springfield, Mass., she worked hard and made herself a viable basketball player.

In high school, she played varsity for five years and broke the state scoring record with 3,070 points, according to a report from Ummah Sports, a website that covers Muslim athletes. But as with most of Abdul-Qaadir's life, she didn't settle with that: she also graduated as the top student in her class.

Abdul-Qaadir went on to star at Memphis and, after graduating, transferred to Indiana State University for her redshirt senior season.

She dominated, averaging 14.2 points per game. And she also made history, becoming the first athlete to wear a hijab during a NCAA Division-1 basketball game.

But her groundbreaking achievements - from her excellent grades, to her performance on the court, to even her ability to succeed in a country where so many minorities struggle - can't overcome one simple fact.

Professional basketball isn't ready for a player like her.

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FIBA's rule against headscarves

Professional basketball's international governing body has an all-ecompassing rule concerning headgear: it's not allowed.

It doesn't matter whether an Indian Sikh wants to wear his patka, a turban required by religious tradition, or if a Jewish man wants to wear his yarmulke, a small round cap.

It doesn't matter if Abdul-Qaadir wants to wear her hijab as a visible expression of her commitment to her faith.

That's all due to FIBA Article 4.4.2: "Players shall not wear equipment (objects) that may cause injury to other players." 

Because somehow a hijab, or yarmulke or patka is more dangerous than Lebron James' infamous receding-hair hiding headband. 

The International Basketball Federation will review its policy Wednesday, according to BloombergView, specifically to consider whether the ban against religious headgear should remain.

If it isn't changed, then FIBA must take a long hard look at itself and where its priorities lie.


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