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Schools of Thought: Mat mane may be misleading

January 12, 2009
By Bill Cain, The Leader-Herald

Every match. Every referee, every coach has something to say to Johnstown wrestler Adam Biron.

"Nice hair."

I've seen a lot of high school athletes with dyed hair. Sometimes they go with the school colors. Otherwise, it's usually bleached blonde, as the Gloversville boys' soccer team has done.

It was about 14 or 15 years ago when a couple of my teammates decided to shave their heads after practice and tried to get us all to do it. Most of us thought they were crazy, but in hindsight, I wish we all had followed suit.

A team's adventure in hair care is a minor physical adjustment that isn't always flattering, but has a unifying effect. It becomes an extension of their uniform that stays with them at the end of the day when they've put their jerseys away.

It's a sign of solidarity.

Or maybe they just think it's cool.

Biron hasn't convinced all the Johnstown wrestlers to dye their hair like his, but that may be because of the color.

For those who didn't see Biron on The Leader-Herald's sports page Sunday, his hair is bright pink.

When I was a kid, we didn't feel the need to be quite as politically correct as we do today. A kid with pink hair would have been the subject of endless ridicule.

And we weren't nice like kids are today.

Besides, wrestling is a sport where you're supposed to be tough. Pink isn't a color that really exudes toughness.

Of course, Biron won the 171-pound championship Saturday at the Greg Rockwood Memorial Tournament in Galway, so I if anyone had anything less than P.C. to say to him before a bout, he found a way to shut their mouth. According to the announcement before the championship match at Saturday's tournament, Biron is now 15-2 on the season.

He said, though, that he mostly hears just, "nice hair."

At first, I figured Biron's colorful coiffure was somehow related to breast cancer awareness. The Johnstown Teachers' Association partnered with several fall sports teams in 2006 for a breast cancer awareness campaign that included stickers with pink ribbons being applied to uniforms. Football players donned the decals on their helmets.

My next guess was the "Red Lite" was a result of an errantly applied purple as he tried to match the Sir Bills singlets.

Or maybe he was daring his opponents to say something.

Actually, he said he wanted to dye it "because it's intimidating."

The plan was to go blood red, he said. It faded a little. He admitted he's no hair dye expert, so he didn't anticipate the lighter end product.

Somehow, he said, he has convinced a friend or two to dye their hair in the upcoming weeks. He's working on starting a trend.

I'm sure, though, next time he tries to dye his hair, he will go dark before changing it over to blood red.

Who knows, though? Maybe pink isn't as odd as I originally thought. Biron said he's not the only wrestler out there with an alternative hairstyle.

"I actually faced another kid this year with pink hair," he said. "He lost a bet, though."

Bill Cain is a sportswriter for The Leader-Herald. We invite your feedback on this or any other sports-related topic. E-mail your opinions or ideas to us at



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