Bill Lasley of Bel Air said all his son wanted to do was show team spirit by wearing his new Baltimore Ravens sweatshirt to school.
The boy's excitement quickly changed to confusion when an assistant principal told the 12-year-old he had to remove the sweatshirt or turn it inside out, Lasley said.
When Lasley contacted the Southampton Middle School to learn what the problem was, he was told the phrase "Ball So Hard University" which was written on the front of the sweatshirt, sent "mixed messages," Lasley told Patch Thursday afternoon.
Lasley said a school representative told him the phrase was banned by a school policy.
The school's decision has since been reversed, according to Teri Kranefeld, manager of communications with the school system.
In the meantime, however, Lasley reached out to the community and several media organizations about the incident he characterized as outrageous.
The term "Ball So Hard University" was made popular by Baltimore Ravens player Terrell Suggs who claims the university as his alma mater. The sweatshirt included that phrase, the phrase "Ravens Nation" and recognizable Ravens symbols on it.
“It’s so blatantly obvious that this sweatshirt is talking about the Ravens and playing so hard and putting your heart into it," Lasley said of his son's sweatshirt.
Lasley explained that since the term became popular, his son had wanted a shirt or hat with the phrase on it. Lasley said he recently purchased the sweatshirt for his son and the boy decided to wear it to school.
“He couldn’t have been more excited about it," Lasley said.
When the 12-year-old was reprimanded, Lasley said, the boy wasn't sure what about his sweatshirt was objectionable.
"I understand banning clothing that promotes violence or drugs or foul language, I get that," Lasley said, "But a sweatshirt that is clearly promoting our team that everyone is excited about having in the playoffs is absolutely appropriate.”
Lasley said his son is an honor roll student and teachers always tell him his son is a pleasure to have in class. The seventh grader is a good student and not a troublemaker, Lasley said.
"The only thing I can think is that it uses the word 'ball' and makes a sexual reference," Lasley said, adding that it seemed a stretch to him. “If it was something explicitly sexual, I would never let him have it."
As of Thursday afternoon, however, the school system was no longer calling the sweatshirt problematic.
"That decision was reversed," Kranefeld wrote in an email to Patch