CINCINNATI—Pictures of players on a youth basketball team wearing what some claim are racist jerseys are making the rounds on social media, creating pandemonium. The controversial pictures quickly became the hot topic of the day making its way to national radio shows, including The Breakfast Klub, where host Charlamagne tha God labeled the team and its coach “Donkey of the Day.”
Parent, Tony Rue broke the story on his Facebook page Sunday after attending a game where the Ohio team was playing.
“A Rec league or not, please explain how this is even remotely considered appropriate for a high school basketball game. From a team name referencing sexual conduct to offensive and racist nicknames,” Rue wrote on Facebook.
According to Fox 19 NOW, the Cincinnati Premier Youth Basketball League officials shut down the game and said they have dismissed the team from the league, but parents are left wondering how the team managed to play four weeks into the season before the jerseys were reported.
Charrise Middleton, the coordinator for Kings Rec Basketball 7-12, told FOX19 NOW:
"When I learned of the uniform infractions last night the team involved was immediately removed from the league and will not be returning to play this season. Kings Rec Basketball for grades 7-12 does not in any way support or condone the uniform infractions that occurred. We strictly follow and support the rules set out by CPYBL and fully support their decision to remove the team from play as well."
Middleton also provided a statement on behalf of the team's coach Walt Gill:
"We sincerely apologize to anyone that was offended by the jerseys. We offered to cover them up or change, however the league saw fit to remove us and we have accepted that decision."
The students tried to suggest the racial slurs where not racial at all. They were simply a play on their names. One student whose last name is Kuhn said the word "Coon" was just away to have fun with his name, but the school district and basketball league are not buying it.
A spokesperson for the Kings Local School District said she cannot discuss whether any students will be disciplined due to privacy laws and denies the team's association with the school district in any way, although the team allegedly played three of its games in the school gym.
"Today we became aware of inappropriate conduct from a team of students participating in a recreational basketball league that is not affiliated with the Kings Local School District. This team has been restricted from any further use of district facilities. Kings Local Schools strongly condemns any type of hateful and racist commentary. This behavior is in no way welcome or tolerated in our schools and community."
Social media has been split on the issue, with some saying the students may have been inappropriate but it wasn’t illegal, therefore firing the coach was unjust. Others are praising Rue for taking a stand against racism and bullying and a small percent of commenters are actually praising the students.