It was an alleged prank that drove some New Jersey high school football players to tears. Someone kept on shoving bananas into the locker room where they were preparing for their match, a gesture that prompted an investigation by the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association, CBS 2 reports.
Students representing the North Plainfield Canucks were in a locker room adjoining the one with players from the Summit High School Hilltoppers, who were hosting the match. According to the news station, there was no knob on the door that connected the two rooms, and someone kept pushing bananas through the opening.
“Right away, there was a banana in the door,” North Plainfield player J.T. Valley told CBS 2 about the incident. “And we told our coach, we’re like, ‘Coach, there’s a banana in there.’ So we took the banana, and then all of a sudden they put another one. And we took the banana out, and there was another one in there. And they kept on putting them in there.
“There’s a few tears shed in the locker room,” the young player added.
The Canucks have a large percentage of black players, who were shaken by the incident. Their coach tried to ease the situation in his pregame speech, another player told the station. “Before the game he gave us, like, a very inspirational and emotional pregame speech—about how they didn’t show courage or character,” North Plainfield’s Anthony Lafond said.
Summit High launched an investigation before ruling the incident a “misunderstanding.” According to school Superintendent Nathan Parker, a student readily admitted to the banana stunt but meant no harm.
“The player explained the past practice of blocking the view between the locker rooms and also the superstition of good luck,” Parker said in a press release, according to NJ.com. “There was no intent on this player’s part to taunt the other team.
“Racism is unacceptable,” the superintendent added. “We do not tolerate it in our schools, on our fields or in our community. While the nature of this act was misunderstood, the fact that others felt targeted is taken very seriously.”
No disciplinary action has been taken against the player responsible for the stunt.