Why We Aren’t Allowed To Throw Our Caps

The quintessential graduation phenomena: throwing your cap in the air alongside hundreds of other young adults who are eager for these “coming of age” events to finally be over so they can do what they were intended to do (ie. grow up and get on with real life.) I remember being a young tike, looking forward to the event and thinking how heartwarming it would be to physically symbolize the transition from student to real life. Unfortunately, that even has been ripped from us and deemed as “dangerous.” Funny, because I can’t remember the last time I’ve heard that someone has lost their eye as a result of a cap in the air!

Because we're all going to poke each other's eyes out. (photo by j.o.h.n. walker)

Because we’re all going to poke each other’s eyes out. (photo by j.o.h.n. walker)

Nonetheless, I decided to explore this issue – as it pains my heart to know that something I had looked forward to as a child can not be. In fact, at my school, we’ve been told to write our names on the innards of our caps so as to tell, if someone threw the mortar board in the air, we would know who to punish – and even withhold their diploma from them. It seems school officials have truly gone out of their way to ensure we don’t throw our caps in the air; going as far as to simply reward us our diploma covers until after the ceremony, where we will receive our diplomas in a separate building.

According to this post by metro.co.uk, colleges and high schools alike have been against the concept of graduate hat throwing because of two reasons: as I insinuated before, it is a supposed health hazard to ourselves and those around us, as well as can damage the hats. I don’t know about you, but frankly, throwing the hats horizontally could do more damage than vertically in my opinion. To test this out for myself, I threw my cap in the air and purposefully had it land on my head and shoulders. Then I proceeded to black out as the hat was too much for me. (Obviously, that didn’t happen and I’m merely being sarcastic but nonetheless, I have to state it as such.)

In searching why we aren’t allowed to do it, I also decided to search the history of graduation cap throwing – and it is even more disheartening to know that my generation can not partake in it because people are too worried or too willing to throw lawsuits at one another for things – no one wants to be liable, and everybody wants to play it safe.

Come to find out that, as quoted from Yahoo! voices, “Turns out this tradition dates back to 1912 in Annapolis, Maryland. Students (Plebes) at the United States Naval Academy were classified as midshipmen and were required to wear a midshipman’s cap. For the first time in the academy’s history, the graduates would be officers and would be required to wear a different uniform and cap. At the graduation ceremony the midshipmen flung their hats in the air in what is quoted as a “spontaneous gesture” by the DoD’s web page.”

Huh, the more you know.

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