Referees officiating a high school basketball game were forced to abruptly stop the match after the students from a Catholic school in Cincinnati, Ohio chanted racist slurs at the opposing team.
The game between Elder High School and St. Xavier High School was reportedly called off at the third quarter of the game last Friday when the chanting against St. Xavier’s Black and Asian players reached its peak.
Throughout the game, students from Elder High were heard shouting homophobic slurs, chanting the name of a Chinese restaurant chain directed at an Asian American player, and racially abusing a Black player.
“I was sickened, just sickened,” Susan Stockman, the mother of one of the victims, told WLWT5. “They were relentless. It went as far as, ‘Asian, open your eyes. Go play chess, PF Chang’s.’”
Elder students mocked a Black St. Xavier player, calling him a crack addict who received welfare benefits.
“Very quickly, the cheers turned to what I phrased as microaggressions and racial slurs,” said Mina Jefferson, whose son was also victimized by the verbal abuse.
When St. Xavier students reacted and called them racist, Elder students started yelling homophobic slurs. The abuse continued until St. Xavier’s coach had enough and finally asked the referees to intervene and do something.
“It’s surreal,” Jefferson was quoted as saying. “I mean, you hear it and you assume someone’s going to act swiftly, seize the moment and let that be the lesson — and that didn’t occur. So then you’re dealing with just an absence, a failure of leadership.”
Elder High School and St. Xavier High School, which are both all-boys Catholic schools, are known for being basketball rivals.
Stockman noted that Elder students have thrown similar racist slurs in the past.
“We’re going to play them every year,” she said. “We’re going to be back there. I just don’t want to hear it again. I don’t want to hear it.”
On Wednesday, Elder High School Principal Kurt Ruffing issued an apology, noting that administrators addressed the “seriousness of Friday’s incident” at a student assembly Monday.
“Elder High School regrets the extraordinarily hurtful language and severe lack of respect displayed by its students,” Ruffing said. “We sincerely apologize to the St. Xavier basketball team, its coaching staff, their student section, and all of the fans, family members and alumni of both schools. This type of behavior is contrary to our Catholic faith and does not reflect the lessons taught in our classrooms, hallways, and on our fields of play.”