A Wisconsin high school boys basketball playoff game last week was marred by allegations of racism and antisemitism, according to the parents of players on one of the teams.
Beloit Memorial High school played Muskego High School in the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) Division 1 Regional Semifinals.
Beloit Memorial players found drawings of swastikas, the N-word and the word ‘monkey’ on the top of lockers, according to FOX 6. Parents also recorded Muskego students wearing black face masks and tank tops, allegedly trying to illustrate a Black person.
“This is 2023. They were chanting the N-word and ‘monkey,’ and they were making monkey noises,” Tanya Karl, a parent of a Beloit Memorial basketball player, told the station.
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Other Beloit parents alleged that Muskego fans were pretending to smoke “blunts,” according to the Beloit Daily News. Spectators told the paper some fans were ejected from the game.
The Muskego-Norway Schools District issued a statement Sunday on the incident.
“On Friday night, Muskego High School hosted a competition against Beloit Memorial High School. Following the game’s conclusion, MHS administration received an email from the Athletic Director of Beloit Memorial indicating concerns regarding the theme of the student section and racist images traced in the dust on top of the gymnasium lockers. We were deeply disappointed and saddened by the information shared,” the statement posted on Facebook read.
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“Student safety is our number one priority and we work to ensure students have a positive and rewarding experience while competing in a safe environment. We take allegations of this nature very seriously and immediately began the investigation with the support of the Muskego Police Department. The active investigation continues and includes working with the Beloit administrators, interviewing students, reviewing the recorded event and assessing the school environment. Consequences for inappropriate actions will be prompt.
“We sincerely apologize for all behaviors that occurred that evening which do not represent the values of Muskego High School or the Muskego-Norway community. Furthermore, we are wholeheartedly dedicated to improving processes that will ensure our commitment of providing an environment that meets the expectations of our community and demonstrates respect for others.”
The WIAA lays out rules for sportsmanship on its website.
“Interscholastic athletics must be maintained on a moral and educational platform. Every student-athlete must be able to compete in a climate of respect, free of threat, free of fear, intimidation and harassment,” the rules read in part.
“Harassment is behavior aimed at a person’s sex, race, religion, creed, age, national origin, ancestry, pregnancy, marital or parental status, sexual orientation, or disability that substantially interferes with a student’s school performance or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive school environment. Harassment may be verbal, non-verbal or physical acts during athletic competitions.”
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Kevin Zimmerman, a member of the Muskego-Norway School Board, told TMJ4 that “strict discipline” will be down after an investigation confirms the parents’ reports.