A group of white Missouri high school basketball fans held up Trump signs and turned their backs on an opposing black team, Huffington Post is reporting. However, whether or not the fans’ actions were an act of racism, poor sportsmanship, or just a thing basketball fans at that school do, is a matter of dispute.
On Monday night, the team from Center High School, a Kansas City-area team composed entirely of black or biracial players, visited Warrensburg High School in Warresnburg, a rural, almost entirely white school about 60 miles away. As the Center players were being introduced, the Warrensburg fans, some dressed as farmers for a theme night, turned their backs on their black opponents. At least one fan held a Trump/Pence sign.
— Scott Heim (@Scott_Heim) December 15, 2016
Facebook user Toniaa Lakylia Nunn posted a video of the event on her Facebook page, without any commentary.
Nunn’s video has since gone viral on Facebook, and as of this writing, it’s been viewed over 678,000 times.
Center coach LeDale Wooten tells The Kansas City Star that neither he nor his players noticed the Warrensburg fans’ actions.
“My focus was on the basketball game and my guys. I didn’t notice anything. Our focus is on basketball and basketball only. Everything else is irrelevant.”
It seems as if Wooten and his team remained focused, and that got them through the night. Center wound up winning the game, 66-62.
The actions of the Warrensburg fans drew a sharp backlash. Antonia Nunn, the woman who recorded the video, tells KSHB (Kansas City) that there’s no doubt what the Warrensburg fans did that night was an act of racism.
“I was like wow. You guys are playing an all-black basketball team and you’re all white and it’s just, you turned around, hold up a trump sign and I thought it was very racist. It was rude. I didn’t like it at all. It wasn’t ok.
She also says that some Warrensburg students, offended by the actions of their classmates, have reached out to her via social media to apologize.
However, not everyone is convinced that what the Warrensburg fans did was racist. Warrensburg superintendent Scott Patrick said that it’s a tradition at Warrensburg for fans to turn their backs on opposing teams when they’re introduced, regardless of the opposing team’s race. It’s a tradition that he calls “unsportsmanlike” and of which he’s not a fan, and the school district doesn’t condone it. However, he says that the Trump/Pence sign that some students help up definitely elevated the act from one of poor sportsmanship to one of racism.
“I think in this case, (the Trump sign) was really the difference in what took this from something that was unsportsmanlike to something that was insensitive, not necessary and inappropriate.”
The Warrensburg school district has issued a public apology to Center High School for Monday’s incident.
“The Warrensburg R-VI School District does not condone these actions and apologizes to anyone who was offended by the actions of these students. We will do everything in our power to rectify this situation and keep events like this from happening in the future.”
In the comments on Nunn’s original Facebook post, several commenters were appalled by the actions of Warrensburg fans.
Pamela Quinaln: When they turned their a***s towards the court- they showed who they really are- a***s. Butt heads.
However, others pointed out that turning their backs on an opposing team is a tradition at Warrensburg and that there was nothing racist about it.
Kelly Marie: It is spirt [sic] week at this school! They are not racist in any way shape of form.. the kids do that at every game when announcing the other team.
Do you think the Warrensburg fans were racist for turning their backs on a black team while a fan displayed a Trump/Pence sign?
[Featured Image by Chutima Chaochaiya/Shutterstock]