Patriotism Costs Teen Swimmer Victory in New Jersey

A New Jersey high school swimmer was disqualified from his race after officials noticed the oversized American flag on his cap.

The athlete’s father said he wore it in memory of their grandfather who passed away during 9/11 attacks. Despite this heartbreaking backstory, the rules stood and sadly cost him any chance at earning points for himself and the team.

High School Swimmer Disqualified for Wearing American Flag

A high school swimmer’s patriotic display was abruptly cut short when he was disqualified from a race for having an American flag patch on his cap that was too large, as per the swimmer’s furious father’s claims.

Rob Miller, the father of a 16-year-old attending New Jersey’s Morristown High School, shared that his son had proudly worn the oversized American flag patch in memory of his late grandfather, who perished in the tragic 9/11 attacks in New York.

The swim competition, which was held on Morristown High School’s Senior Night, pitted the school against Parsippany Hills High School.

As per Miller’s account, the opposing coach chose to wait until the conclusion of the 400-meter freestyle relay race before having the size of the American flag patch measured.

“The heart of the matter is the opposing coach chose to wait until after the swim to disqualify my son, essentially placing the blame of a ‘loss’ on a 16-year-old and crushing the spirit of all the seniors who had won the final dual meet of their high school careers,” Miller expressed in a statement.

The local coach shocked the community by disqualifying the 12-year-old for wearing his team’s flag patch proudly during the competition.

Although Miller’s son usually wore either the standard or differently colored cap with logo and flag facing inwards, he decided to show support this time around – only to be met with an unexpected outcome that has stirred up conversation throughout town.

The Move to Disqualify Allegedly Motivated by Politics

According to a post on the Morristown High School swim team’s official Instagram account, “it’s widely acknowledged that the Motown boys were the real champions.”

The regulations established by the National Federation of State High School Associations for Swimming and Diving specifies the following:

According to new guidelines, teams and organizations now have the option of displaying a small American flag patch on their uniform. In special cases, memorial or commemorative patches may be worn – up to four square inches in size – without compromising an athlete’s overall look.”

In a subsequent tweet, Miller speculated the disqualification could have been a result of the patch being perceived as a “political statement.”

Efforts to reach either of the swim coaches from either high school were unsuccessful and they were not available to provide a comment.