Earlier today, school officials in Lunenburg, Massachusetts canceled the remainder of Lunenburg High's football season in the wake of an investigation into racial slurs against the team's only black player. Officials in the town half an hour north of Worcester and an hour north of Boston also dropped a bombshell--they're also looking into allegations that Lunenburg High players directed racial slurs at their opponents a few weeks ago.
The Lunenburg team is now the focus in racial graffiti discovered Friday morning spray-painted on the house of 13-year-old Lunenburg player Isaac A. Phillips, who alleges wrongdoing by teammates.Isaac, the son of a white woman and a half-black man, woke up early Friday morning to find someone had spray-painted "Knights don't need n***s" on the foundation of his house. After no one came forward with what they knew about the incident at a Friday afternoon team meeting, school officials postponed that night's game and announced that the team wouldn't play again until they got to the bottom of this. Earlier, Isaac's father, Anthony Phillips, says that Friday morning's vandalism was the culmination of rampant bullying against his son. He also says the coaches did nothing, even when Isaac found his bike tire slashed.
Ms. Calmes thanked the community for attending a vigil Sunday night and for supporting Isaac and his family who were the targets of an "act of hate." She said the district will continue to make its resources available to assist the family.
She also confirmed an investigation into allegations related to racial slurs by Lunenburg players directed toward Worcester South High Community School football players a few weeks ago.
"The educators and coaches of Lunenburg value diversity and we care deeply about all of our students," Ms. Calmes said. "We have no tolerance for racism in any form and we do everything we can to eliminate it from our schools and our community. Numerous members of the faculty and staff were in attendance at the vigil (Sunday) night along with the entire football coaching staff and team. We have also sought out the assistance of the Anti-Defamation League to assist us in delivering additional educational programs for students to teach tolerance."
Now comes word that Lunenburg players allegedly hurled racial slurs at players from Worcester South High during a varsity game on November 1 and a JV game on November 4. The JV game got so heated that a fight broke out, forcing the refs to end the game with four minutes left in regulation.
Seen in this light, today's move was the only acceptable response. And if I'm Lunenburg head coach Steve Boone, I'd have a lawyer on speed dial--and I'd also be updating my resume. Things like this simply don't get to this point if the coaches take action. And there isn't a school district in this country--or at least, no school district that doesn't have its head up its collective butt--where a coach can allow this to go on and keep his job.
4:12 PM PT: Since this made the rec list, I thought I'd mention that I'm reminded of how this contrasts with a situation a couple of months ago in Utah. When Mark Dunham found out that several of his players had been mouthy to teachers, slacking off in class and even cyberbullying another student, he suspended his entire team and threatened to forfeit the rest of the season unless they earned their jerseys back. All but a few players got the hint. What we have here is an example of the opposite end of the spectrum. For any coach worth his salt, the racial incidents against Worcester South should have been a wake-up call. Obviously they weren't.