Students at Holy Spirit High School dressed up as a monkey and a banana taunted black basketball players during a game between Atlantic City and Holy Spirit High School last week, NBC News reports.
The Holy Spirit High School basketball team from New Jersey was playing Atlantic City’s team composed mostly of blacks when two Holy Spirit High School seniors, dressed up in costumes representing a monkey and a banana, performed a racially inflammatory skit from the sidelines designed to distract the Atlantic City players.
During the game, the two Holy Spirit High School seniors dressed as a monkey and a banana screamed from the sidelines at Atlantic City players who were mostly black. NBC News reports that a female student dressed as a cowgirl and another dressed as a bumblebee also participated in the skit from the sidelines that was recorded on video.
Despite multiple complaints, the boys were not punished. Officials only issued warnings.
Ricardo Belgrave, who attended the game on Friday night, said he thought the behavior of the students was racist and offensive.
“I absolutely think it was offensive. You should know when you’re putting that costume on, it should come in your mind that this might offend African-American people.”
But Jack Versput, who also attended the game, thought it was just a “prank.”
“To me it was harmless kids’ pranks, you know. I didn’t see any racial overtones to anything.”
Jermaine Baskerville also thought that the kids were only “being silly,” but he said that parents and administrators should have stopped them.
Jay Connell, athletic director at Holy Spirit, told the Press of Atlantic City that he was not going to punish anyone. But he said it won’t happen again.
“I am not going to kick anyone out of school or whip anybody. All I can do is apologize; I can’t take it back.There is no punishment. The punishment is that it will be an event that will not happen again, and that is the punishment for Holy Spirit.”
However, Atlantic City’s athletic director Anthony Nistico said he was appalled that the school authorities and game officials allowed it to happen.
“What I am appalled at is there are adults there that let this happen.These two students were allowed to walk into the gym in these costumes and with this shower curtain. What were the adults thinking? Where were the refs?”
Nistico also noted that several Holy Spirit High School boys hid behind a shower curtain and jumped out from behind it, apparently to distract the Atlantic City players.
The Daily Mail reports that a poll on the Press of Atlantic City website found that more than 50 percent of those polled felt that the students should not be punished because students often dressed up in various costumes for sports events.
But the Cape-Atlantic League’s board of referees agreed that the students acted offensively and that the skit was racially insensitive. The referees were reprimanded for allowing the racially offensive skit to continue.
The students were also warned that racially-insensitive skits would not be tolerated in the future.