Steelers fan sent home from Seahawks-crazed school for jersey

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The reception was anything but immaculate Friday, when seventh-grader Grendon Bailie wore a Franco Harris Steelers jersey to his middle school in Tacoma, Wash., on Seattle Seahawks Appreciation Day.

Grendon, 13, scored no points with administrators, who barred him from classes for not following Truman Middle School's directive that Seahawks jerseys or colors would be the only permitted exceptions from the dress code at the public school.

This time, unlike in the 2006 Super Bowl, the Steelers fell to the Seahawks -- Grendon decided to just go home rather than change out of Steelers attire. And that was fine with his parents, Jacqueline B. and Stoughton Bailie Sr., Fox Chapel and Shadyside natives, respectively, and diehard Steeler fans.

The school's reaction wasn't totally unexpected by Mr. Bailie, who had encouraged his son to support the team he loved even though the school had made clear the preceding day that only Seahawks or regular school clothing would be permitted.

Grendon took with him to school a note for administrators that his father had written in support of his attire. "We have taught our children many things over the years and one of the most important values that we hold true is loyalty," Mr. Bailie wrote. "I very much stand behind Grendon's right to support the team of his choice at public taxpayer funded events."

Grendon said administrators refused to read the note.

Mr. Bailie conceded he "planted the seed" for his son's blitz of Seahawks Appreciation Day because he and his family have no appreciation for Seattle fans constantly bellyaching that Pittsburgh won Super Bowl XL by a score of 21-10 only because of blown referee calls.

"We take a lot of abuse from Seattle fans. I can't go to a grocery store if I'm wearing Steeler stuff -- which is always -- without hearing from little old ladies, 'You cheated in the Super Bowl.'

"Look, I'm not trying to change the world," said Mr. Bailie, who contacted the Post-Gazette about the incident. "I'm just poking back because I take so much grief for being a Steelers fan.

"People say I should call the ACLU, but I'm not interested in that. I'm just surprised because I didn't think the school would carry it that far."

For his part, Grendon said it was "kind of stupid" he wasn't allowed to support his favorite team by wearing their gear.

But Stacy Flores, public information officer for Tacoma School District, said it was made abundantly clear to the school's 600 students the preceding day that only Seattle Seahawks jerseys were permitted as part of the community-wide show of support for the hometown team.

Otherwise, students had to abide by the dress code, which for boys includes solid-colored polo shirts and either black, blue or tan slacks.

"No student was forced to wear Seahawks colors. If they chose not to do so they were asked to abide by the dress code. From what principals [at Truman] said, mostly all of the students and even some staff participated. There was just one student who did not abide by the rules."

She said there were no disciplinary consequences for Grendon given that his parents permitted him to leave school. He simply would be marked absent for the day.

Ms. Flores added that Grendon could have complied with school rules and still supported the Steelers by wearing black pants and a yellow polo shirt.

But Mr. Bailie noted, "He doesn't have a yellow polo shirt. Everything is black and gold."

Asked if she was wearing Seahawks colors, Ms. Flores said those in the central administration office were not given the option.

"I'm wearing a black business suit," said Ms. Flores, who moved to Tacoma eight years ago from Harrisburg.

Wait, was her attire supporting the Steelers given her former hometown?

"No. I was an Eagles fan," she said, laughing.

Of course, the Steelers and Seahawks, are still in the playoffs, while the Eagles have been eliminated.

In fact, it's possible that the Steelers and the Seahawks could meet in the Super Bowl again.

"That would be cool," Grendon said, "so we could beat them again."

Michael A. Fuoco: or 412-263-1968.


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