It’s starting to look like BYU all over again for high school athletes in Kansas who were victims of alleged racial taunting by fans in the stands during a sporting event, according to their coach.
According to the Associated Press, two Kansas high schools are investigating an incident in which students and fans supporting Valley Center High School’s basketball team are accused of racially heckling Black student-athletes at Topeka High School during a game between the two schools. Topeka’s coach, Geo Lyons, claimed in a Change.org petition demanding that Valley Center High hecklers be removed from all future sporting events that not only were his team members subject to racial epithets and expletives during the game but a Black baby doll was used during the taunting.
“I had a down locker room, I’m talking about tears were flowing in that locker room,” Lyons told KSN-TV.
Lyons said that his own son was shooting a free throw when the Valley Center student section started chanting an expletive, although it’s unclear what exactly he alleges was being chanted. But he did say racial slurs were used and his team was told they were going to be hanged.
Much like the BYU incident, Valley Center administrators apologized for the incident while district officials claimed there was no evidence of racial heckling.
Valley Center officials issued an apology Monday to Topeka High School for “inappropriate language and behavior” by students during the game.
The district said in a statement that Topeka and Valley Center officials spent much of the weekend studying videos and interviewing people in attendance. As of Tuesday, the officials had not found evidence of specifically racist taunts but Valley Center acknowledged that students acted inappropriately.
It said students who chanted the expletive at the Topeka student were immediately removed and Valley Center officials worked to prevent any other negative interactions when the game ended.
As for the Black baby doll that a student can be seen holding in video footage of the incident, the district claims it was part of a class assignment that requires students to “parent” the baby. In a statement, the district admitted that “without context, seeing the baby and images of the ‘baby’ caused hurt and concern to many, and for that we are very sorry.”
Hmmmm—white students, Black baby doll paired with allegations of racism—these explanations just sound very convenient given the circumstances, but OK.
According to Amy Pavlacka, a spokesperson for Valley Center Superintendent Cory Gibson, the superintendent had a “fruitful” conversation with NAACP reps following the incident.
More from AP:
Gibson and Valley Center High School Principal Bruce Lolling also visited with patrons from both cities to discuss the situation.
“As a district, we sent a letter to all VCHS families and students explaining there would be follow-up consequences for those students involved, and that we, as a community, should learn and grow from this experience,” the statement said.
Meanwhile, Topeka schools Superintendent Tiffany Anderson said the incident has been reported to the Kansas State High School Activities Association and that the Topeka district appreciated Valley Center’s apology, so long as the apology isn’t the only action taken.
“I am so grateful for our coaches, principal (Rebecca) Morrisey and the mighty Trojans at Topeka High who modeled the conduct we expect from our students and we hope that it sets the example of what excellence looks like for others to learn from moving forward,” Anderson wrote in a letter to district patrons.
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