A star high school basketball player was suspended from a state playoff game after creating a social media post referencing their opponent with a racial slur.
The 17-year-old, white student who plays for Ardrey Kell (N.C.) High School, used a racist slur to refer to West Charlotte in a Snapchat post according to the Charlotte Observer.
Perhaps it’s the ephemeral nature of Snapchat, a social media platform where messages are intended to disappear shortly after they’re created, but high school athletes would do well to remember that screenshots exist and that, in general, the Internet is forever.
The player’s insensitive post was in fact captured by a screenshot and posted to more permanent social platforms on Monday, and soon made its way to Ardrey Kell school officials and the team’s coach.
“A very swift and appropriate decision was reached to immediately suspend the player indefinitely,” Ardrey Kell coach Mike Craft told the Observer. “The player will not be with the team or at the game (Tuesday). The individual comments that were made are not representative of the values of our program, the AK school community, or the expectations we have of our student-athletes.”
In a statement provided to the Observer, the player’s parents apologized for his post, writing:
“As a family we are devastated and so is (the player). While we stand by our son, and love him deeply, we do recognize the wrong and hurt caused by careless words. We do not believe his words represent who he is as a person, his overall character and his heart towards others. Being part of a diverse community is significant to our values as a family, but it is clear from today, that there are more conversations to be had as today’s words don’t reflect the tone of our home nor (the) true heart of our son.
“(The player) is ashamed and deeply sorrowful for his word choice. He has met with his teammates, coaches, and principal and personally apologized. And for the many who (he) will never get to speak to regarding today, he is sorry.
“There is no excuse for words like this. (He) is firmly aware of that and holds himself accountable for his careless action. We as a family, stand by his suspension, and believe firmly that (the player), our family, and prayerfully, our entire community will grow from this.”
That wasn’t the end of the social media hullabaloo, however, as a doctored Snapchat post reportedly featured a West Charlotte star player threatened to shoot the Ardrey Kell player. It’s unclear how the post was doctored, or who the post was created by, but West Charlotte principal Dr. Timisha Barnes-Jones told the Observer that her students “had nothing to do with that,” and that the second post “looked exactly like the (original post from the Ardrey Kell player) but with a bit of a word switch.”
The player targeted by the doctored second post had reportedly deleted his social accounts over the weekend, and never saw the offending post — but it did catch the attention of local authorities, who according to the Observer were about to head to the player’s home before school officials intervened.
Tuesday’s game had already been a source of tension, because it had been relocated from West Charlotte by the NCHSAA due to limited seating. Some West Charlotte fans reportedly believed the change was motivated by socioeconomic and racial reasons.
The social media posts only fueled that fire. However, the game was carried off without incident, and West Charlotte prevailed by a score of 69-53.
"I've had better weeks," Craft said after the game. He also addressed the Snapchat controversy, saying, "We learned that social media can really blow up in a hurry. As a 17-year-old kid, he's made a mistake he really, really regrets. And it's not indicative of our program, but yes, I think everybody can learn from that."