A third incident of hate speech with racist undertones in as many weeks has sullied high school football in California's capital region.
As reported by The Sacramento Bee, the Del Campo High School varsity football team entered its locker room Friday following a 35-14 loss to host Vista del Lago in Fulsom, only to have players turn and rush out amid a flush of anger. Written on a whiteboard in the visiting locker room: Epithets, profanity and racist slurs directed at Del Campo, school officials told The Bee.
Del Campo coach Matt Costa, who alerted administrators at both schools, said belongings were thrown around, but none of the players’ equipment or belongings were taken.
According to Joe Davidson of The Bee, the incident comes after Amador High School had its season abruptly ended following the discovery of a team group social media chat that included, “Kill the Blacks” though an Amador player told the Bee that the reference was toward a jersey color. The team’s season ended due to a lengthy investigation.
And, last week, the varsity football team at River Valley High School in Yuba City had its season canceled by district officials after the discovery of a social media clip of a mock slave auction.
The video, reviewed by The Bee, showed several River Valley players of color standing in their underwear in a locker room as teammates laughed and pointed at them.
The Folsom Cordova Unified School District and Vista del Lago are investigating Friday’s incident, according to Peter Maroon, the district’s director of athletics. He told The Bee on Saturday that officials believe someone had entered the locker room in the second half of the game and marked up the whiteboard. Maroon and Costa said they do not believe their incident is connected to the Vista del Lago football program.
“First thing I thought was, ‘Are you kidding me?’” Maroon said. “We don’t think it’s Vista kids. We have video surveillance, and we can see there were middle-school-aged kids hanging around that locker room. It was very childish, what was written, hurtful, and it’s something that has no place in society. It’s something we have to address in our communities across the country. What we’re seeing is hard to explain and to understand.”
Maroon added, “This is not representative of our district, and we will do our due best to find out what happened.”
With two Black coaches, more than 10 Black players on the varsity team and a roster that’s more than half people of color, Costa called the messages scrawled on the board “egregious,” “alarming” and “disturbing” for Del Campo, a Fair Oaks school in the San Juan Unified district.
Words hurt, Costa said, written or otherwise. “I don’t get this,” he said. “This is a systemic society issue, not a school issue. What is it that we’re teaching these kids, or not teaching them? We as a people and as a society have to do much better. This is ridiculous. This is still something we’re dealing with every day? Our kids exited the locker room really angry, pissed, and understandably so.”
He added, “I just want to make sure my kids are okay, and to be sure the people who did this are held accountable.”
Greg Snyder, the principal of Del Campo, called the incident “unacceptable” and said he and other San Juan Unified officials were working to assist Folsom Cordova Unified officials. “We are doing everything possible to support their administration as they work to determine who is responsible and hold them accountable,” he said. “Our priority now is the well-being of our student-athletes and the impacts this act has created for them.”
Kimberly Moore, principal of Vista del Lago, said in a statement Saturday that she was “greatly saddened by this event and the impact it has had on students, families and the community,” The Bee reported. “Vista is proud of the emphasis we place on a positive and welcoming school culture. ... This incident does not reflect the values of our school or football program. We do not tolerate any forms of racism or hate at Vista del Lago. There is no place on our campus where harassment, bullying or racial-based slurs will be tolerated or accepted.”