A California high school removed three players from the baseball team after they “manipulated” letters from their jerseys to spell out the n-word and post it on social media, the Ventura County Star reports.
Nordhoff High Coach Sean Strben, who was not directly involved in the March 15 incident, also resigned this week.
“There have been several issues and incidents of concern related to this year’s varsity baseball season,” Principal Greg Bayless wrote in a letter to parents that was obtained by the Star. “Most recently, a few players made the extremely poor and indefensible decision to manipulate the letters on their team jerseys to spell out the worst, most hateful and disrespectful racial slur that exists in our culture.”
“We take this behavior very, very seriously, as it is completely inconsistent with our values,” he continued. “The players involved in this incident were removed from the team and additional school-related consequences will be administered that are consistent with our unwavering commitment to keeping Nordhoff a school of respect and dignity for all students and families.”
The principal reportedly clarified in a letter to teachers that the word spelled was the n-word.
Bayless told the Los Angeles Times he was considering a much harsher punishment.
“I considered canceling the season because it was not clear to me to the extent this was an isolated incident and it was not clear to me if the other players understood the gravity of the situation,” Bayless told the newspaper. “If any[one] was going to minimize or dismiss the situation, I would have said the season is over. Instead, they were incredibly embarrassed. Not a single person of the remaining players was not deeply wounded.”
This is the second racially charged incident in Southern California this month. In early March, a volleyball player from Simi Valley High shouted “Build a wall” against Pacifica High, which boasts a student population that is 92 percent Latino or Hispanic.
“It was unfortunate and uncalled for,” Penny DeLeon, superintendent of the Oxnard Union High School District, told the Star at the time.
She added: “It’s something all diverse districts are dealing with now.”
DeLeon did not provide a reason as to why there appears to be a rise in racially charged incidents in areas of the country, however, others have cited President Trump’s often controversial rhetoric for encouraging the use of more abrasive language in America.
“No doubt in my mind that this sentiment has always existed with groups of people but to display it so openly is so not correct!” a spectator named Carlos Urias wrote on Facebook following a similar incident last November in Texas. “I guess it makes it easier to treat others in this manner being that this sentiment was modeled verbally during the course of the presidential campaign. ……..Sad.”
In that incident, a group of students from Archer City High in Snyder, Tex., held Trump/Pence campaign signs and chanted, “Build that wall,” to their opponents from Fort Hancock, where the majority of the students are Hispanic or Latino.
As is the latest case in California, the Texas high school district’s superintendent also condemned the offending students’ actions.
“In no way do we condone this type of language or behavior,” Archer City Superintendent C.D. Knobloch said statement. “We apologize to the students and community of Ft. Hancock. The administration is making every effort to ensure this doesn’t happen again.”