A high school basketball game in New Jersey was stopped early last week amid allegations of racism against one of the teams.
According to The Press Group, Teaneck High School freshman basketball coach Owen Barnes pulled his team off the court with about three minutes remaining against Northern Valley/Old Tappan on Feb. 11 due to insults and racial slurs being directed at his players.
Barnes said that the referees and Northern Valley/Old Tappan coaches did nothing to stop the derogatory comments that were happening in the Old Tappan gym.
“In an effort to deescalate a disturbing situation that was taking place on the basketball court, one that was reported by our freshman head coach during the game but was not sufficiently rectified, our coach made a decision in the best interest of our student athletes to end the game early,” Teaneck Schools Superintendent Christopher Irving said in a statement. “We are very proud of how our students handled this issue, and conversations are now taking place between the principals and athletic directors of the two schools.”
However, Northern Valley Regional High School District officials said they received no reports of inappropriate language. Northjersey.com reported that no staff members, referees or scorekeepers have said they heard any racial epithets.
“The referees who were on court standing with the kids said they didn’t hear a single thing of that nature at all,” NVOT school board president Joseph Argenziano said. “We take this stuff extremely seriously and if any of it is found to be true, people will be held accountable.”
Argenziano said that the NVOT school board plans to launch an investigation.
“If the allegations are true, that would be very serious and grossly unacceptable,” he said. “These are some pretty ugly accusations and I would expect the Teaneck administration to hold their people accountable (if the allegations are false). In the end, when you put something out there like this it besmirches the reputation of the kids of Old Tappan and the district in general.”
“In the meantime I would encourage everyone not to rush to judgement,” Northern Valley District Superintendent James Santana said. “Too quickly our society rushes and people allow their emotions to accelerate judgments of others. Everyone needs to slow down and wait for the facts to be evaluated.”