With the removal of the Confederate flag from the South Carolina statehouse grounds, the state is eligible again to host NCAA neutral-site championship games. This will be the first time the state has been allowed to host NCAA games since 2001 when it was banned from doing so because of the presence of the Confederate flag on the statehouse grounds.
However, while the rules about the Confederate flag are straightforward, they are not so clear cut in high schools, where the debate over the use of Confederate flag and related symbols for team logos and names is picking up again.
Since the massacre in Charleston, several school districts around the country have taken steps to rid their schools and sports teams of Confederate symbols. Last month, a school board committee in Arkansas voted to phase out the Rebels nickname used by Southside High School. They also decided to immediately end the use of the Confederate anthem “Dixie” as the school’s fight song. Residents in an Alabama town complained about the use of the Rebels nickname for Vestavia Hills High school, which led to a community meeting, and the superintendent for a Kentucky high school had all logos and pictures that featured the Confederate flag removed from websites for the school and the state athletic association.
While some school districts have quickly agreed to change Confederate symbols associated with their schools, some school districts throughout the country are resisting change. In Texas, newspaper editorials have criticized calls for schools that use the nickname “Rebels” to change their name. Of the seven Kentucky schools that use the name “Rebels,” none plan to change their name.
In other places, there has been no discussion whatsoever of removing Confederate symbolism from high schools.
Teams for Hurley High School in Hurley, Virginia are known as the Rebels and their logo features the Confederate flag waving from a sword. Additionally, a picture on the school’s Facebook page shows football players running onto the field under the Confederate flag after they ran through a homecoming banner with two hand-painted Confederate flags on it.
Hurley High School principal Pamela Dotson told the Huffington Post, “Since all of this has come about, our community has stood behind the logo and the flag.”
According to Dotson, “If you did a survey, I doubt you’d find a single person who’d want to change it.”
Dotson says the school uses the image of the flag to honor area soldiers who fought and died in the Civil War, as well as a reminder of the area’s history. She says residents of Hurley see the current debate over the Confederate flag as “just about politics and ignorance about the true meaning of the flag.”
The town of Hurley is in Buchanan County, which according to the Census Bureau, has a population that is 96.1 percent white. Only 2.9 percent of the 23,000 people who live in Hurley are African-American.
Hurley High School has one black student this year who Dotson says wears the Rebel uniform with the Confederate flag on it with pride. In her three years as principal at Hurley High, Dotson hasn’t received any complaints from black students.