Have you ever Googled the terms "racism" and "high school sports"? Well, if you ever wanted to lose faith in humanity a few degrees more than you may already have, then a brief survey of the year's most-reported high school sports stories have been about race. Race this, race that.
When it comes to the children of the United States of America, a callous attitude toward matters of race seems to be all the rage these days.
A stereotypically common response from an African-American mother or grandmother when faced with the prospect of unruly children is to say, "They act like they don't have no home training." Well, if recent racist behaviors exhibited by Caucasian high school athletes across the nation are to be used as a barometer, there is much home training to be administered to all ethnicities regarding race in America.
I was always taught that race had no place in sports and that athletic team competition is a prime example of people of different races, ethnic and cultural backgrounds band together to achieve a common goal. When most high schoolers were children, surely the open-minded ideas of camaraderie, sportsmanship and brotherhood were drilled into their heads. But apparently that isn't enough in some circumstances.
In February, a group of New Jersey state champion high school wrestlers from Phillipsburg High were disciplined for taking a racist photo in which members used KKK imagery and a black wrestling dummy in a T-shirt of the opposing Paulsboro High School being hung by a rope wrapped around its neck. Phillipsburg is 7.5 percent black; Paulsboro is 36 percent black.
On March 13, an all-white basketball team from Howell (MI) High School defeated the mixed-race squad fielded by Grand Blanc High School during the Class A regional final by a score of 54-49. One would think the hard-fought win would have satisfied Howell students and alumni, but that would not be taking into account the emboldening effect social media has on stupid people. Tweets such as "All hail white power. #HitlerIsMyDad" and "Tonight was probably one of the most racist nights of my life. I heard so many slurs and expressions. I also said a few things…"
A very similar circumstance involving high school basketball fans and Twitter occurred during state semifinals in Mahopac, north of New York City. Several students were suspended after they sent racist tweets following a loss to local basketball powerhouse Mount Vernon. These are but a few of the many incidents that have occurred in high school athletics over the past five years.
In all of the aforementioned circumstances, school administrators were on record as saying how wrong these actions were and that disciplinary measures were certainly being taken, but said discipline will likely do very little to ease concerns about the rising tide of racism in high school athletics. It is easy for a child to feign ignorance about racial prejudice, but certain behavior is learned.
What of the adults whose teachings are often the catalyst for such behaviors?
Rancho Bernardo High School basketball coach James Choe recently came under fire amid allegations of racism contained within an anonymous complaint filed with Poway Unified School District and the local NAACP chapter.
The complaint contained assertions of race-based bullying and demagoguery. Choe, a 2010 Coach of the Year in San Diego, is considered among the best in his region. At press time, he was still the boys' basketball coach at Rancho Bernardo High School. When asked by ABC News 10 about any disciplinary actions the coach faces, the Poway Unified School District spokesperson said those matters "are not open for public record."
Every year the Washington Redskins and owner Dan Snyder are taken to task for the franchise's use of what some perceive as a racially derogatory term, the team's name.
During the ongoing argument regarding the appropriateness of the name, the ideas and sensibilities of people on both sides of the argument are brought to the light. Many conservative-minded Americans, both white and black, cannot comprehend why there has been so much outrage over the name of their favorite NFL franchise. For liberal-minded individuals, the case is clear, if the team were given a respectable name such as, say, the Washington Cherokees, the visceral response from the left would be dialed back considerably.
For me, it's as easy to see the difference between Cherokee and Redskin as it is to see the difference between a team being called the Zulus or the Spearchuckers. One is the name of an actual group of people, the other is a derogatory term that was once used to demean and belittle a group of people. So, why all the ambiguity from the NFL when this fact is brought up? Is it genuine ignorance or simply an unwillingness to change for the sake of comfort? One can never know for certain without the benefit of telepathy.
Read more at the Shadow League.