Yesterday, the wire reports came out about a five-year-old in Oklahoma City who was forced to turn his Michigan shirt inside-out, as only Oklahoma and Oklahoma State sports shirts are allowed in OKC's public school system. It's not the result of a fascistic insistence on being a fan of local teams only or anything; the rule acts to reduce gang involvement in schools since wearing certain colors and emblems are part of that.
That all said, this is a five-year-old baby boy we're talking about here. Nobody's slinging dope when they get on the bus en route to kindergarten. So armed with the safe knowledge that the kid isn't a menace to society, Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon decided to do the right thing and reach out to young Cooper Barton and his family.
Here's video from the Detroit Free-Press, who was at Brandon's press conference today.
"There is a regulation in the Oklahoma school system that that if it isn't a University of Oklahoma shirt, you can't wear it," said Brandon at the conference. "What a bunch of crap, right? So I want you to know a couple things are being done, because we try to pay attention. First of all, we're going to invite Cooper and his parents to come to a football game. We're gonna put them up on the big screen with his t-shirt and pay homage to this loyal fan.
"The other thing I want you to know is that I, after hearing this story yesterday, went to our friends at the M Den—who are just terrific, because they made this happen in a hurry. This is a Michigan football t-shirt that we're going to send to Cooper. But what I want you to understand is that when you turn it inside-out..."
Brandon then held up the inside-out shirt with a Michigan logo on it to riotous laughter and applause from the assembled crowd.
"So the hell with those people!" he concluded, smiling.
This rule's probably gone within a matter of weeks, by the way. Doubtless, the school was in a daze by the avalanche of publicity that enforcing a district-wide dress code rule with a five-year-old would bring upon it. The impetus to curb gang activity is undoubtedly important, but so is common sense.
But that shirt, with a Michigan logo on the inside? That's poetic justice. It's perfect. And it's a credit to the creativity and forward thinking of Brandon that instead of just issuing a bland "we think Michigan shirts should be available for all children to wear" press statement, he went these extra miles to make the athletic department look as cool and good as possible.