Politics Continue to Intrude on High School Sports

Andy Berg Headshot

The country’s partisan discourse continues to impact high school sports, as a pair of politically charged incidents hit prep campuses over the past week.

At Harnett Central High School (N.C.) principal Cindy Gordon was fired after she asked a student at a football game to remove a jersey, which read “Trump 45” on the back. 

According to Yahoo Lifestyle, Gordon disciplined student Matthew Collins, 18, for wearing a Trump jersey to a football game where students were encouraged to wear patriotic clothing. Collins’ father said his son felt “humiliated” and left the game.

“We don’t want any kids violated. We don’t want to see kids embarrassed over something like this,” Mike Collins said. “[Matthew] was not disrespectful. He was not acting in a manner that would cause attention to him.”

The school announced that Gordon will be replaced by Harnett Primary principal Catherine Jones.

Meanwhile, in Washington, about 50 students walked out of Kamiakin High School classes last week over allegations of racism, which stemmed from a chant that started at a football game. According to the Tri-City Herald, Kamiakin students in the crowd chanted “Build the Wall,” prompting some in the crowd to take their concerns to the school board.

The student body spirit section had decided “United States of America” theme and students showed up to cheer for their team wearing red, white and blue. One student brought a “Make America Great Again” flag.

A senior at the game, Cielo Castor, said the student with the flag had a right to display it, but when the “Build the Wall” chant started, she told the student who brought the flag that he need to put a stop to it. Photos of the flag were later posted to social media, which upset Castor enough that she took her concerns to the school board.

After hearing concerns from a number of students who spoke at the school board meeting, Kamiakin principal Chris Chelin decided to go to classes to discuss the matter with students. Late Friday, however, about 50 students walked out, waving a Mexican flag and chanting “We’ll never be defeated — People united." 

Rather than take punitive action, school officials told students who skipped class to come in and talk to administrators if they were experiencing racism or other issues.

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