Some people wear as many as a dozen bands at a time. Some hang charms on them in memory of loved ones they've lost. Armstrong himself, survivor of 14 tumors, is "blown away by this. And I don't think they'll disappear. The fad may fade, but the meaning won't. I'm never taking mine off."
Good thing he's not a high school runner, because the only jewelry allowed under national rules are medals worn as "displays of religious faith" and medical bracelets. "The band is a display of faith," protested Jane Brooks, a Virginia Beach School Board member, "faith in oneself."
Buried by public outrage, a district official reversed the decision against the 10 runners wearing the bracelets because they had not received "adequate prior notice" that the bands were considered jewelry.
So, just to recap, Hicham El Guerrouj, the greatest middle-distance runner in the world, can wear a yellow bracelet as he wins gold in Athens, but a kid running a 10-minute mile can't. And a girl who couldn't pick Christ out of a lineup can wear a trendy fake-ruby-encrusted crucifix, but a girl who wants to honor her hospitalized father can't wear a LIVESTRONG bracelet. Oh, and a kid wearing a Rolex can run--wristwatches are allowed in cross-country--but the kid wearing a rubber band can't.
Of course, these are the same anal-retentive rules freaks who, at that Virginia Beach meet, DQ'd a girl whose shirt had ridden up during her run. The reason? No exposed midriffs allowed.
Oh. My. God.
"This has been a learning situation for the kids," says Nestor. What the kids learned is that there are ways to defy stupid rules. Now they scrawl the names of those they want to honor on their hands before a race, then slip the band back on afterward.
That'll work until cranky officials come up with a new anti-ink-poisoning rule. Personally, I'd like to give them yellow bracelets.
Around their necks.
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