Basketball

Iowa HS apologizes to more diverse opposing school after student section wears U.S.A apparel

Valley fans celebrate as the Tigers go on to beat Des Moines North during the Iowa High School state basketball tournament last week. (Photo: Bryon Houlgrave/The Register)

DES MOINES, Iowa — After some Valley High School students chose to wear red, white, and blue apparel during a basketball game against North High School on Wednesday, some people are crying foul that the garb was meant to be a slight towards the more diverse Des Moines school.

But North High School basketball coach Chad Ryan said he doesn’t think it’s fair assume the Valley students meant harm without knowing their intentions.

“I don’t want to judge those young people not knowing their motives,” Ryan said. “What I will say is we’re proud of our diversity at North High School — not only on our basketball team, but our population.”

Ryan said he was focused on North’s fans and the players that evening during the state tournament game. He said he did not notice the U.S.A. apparel.

“I get so into the game I block that stuff out,” Ryan said.

Ryan said North’s basketball team is diverse and if people did make racist comments towards the school’s students, “that’s obviously not good.”

However, he said North’s diversity is one of the strongest things about the school, and he’s proud of it.

“It’s been good for us, as a school,” Ryan said. “They learn from each other about people with different cultures and backgrounds — and we try to use it as an educational piece.”

Ryan said he would not comment on the allegations on social media that some Valley students said racial slurs to North students.

Valley High School’s Student Council acknowledged the allegations against its students, sending an apology to the students at North High:

To the Students and Staff of North High School:

It has been brought to our attention that the decision by the Valley High School student section to wear U.S.A. apparel at our game last night was offensive to members of your community and fan base. We are deeply sorry if we have offended anyone in any way. We have traditionally dressed in such a fashion for great games such as the one last night. Everyone here at Valley has immense respect not only for your team and players but for your community as a whole. Please know that our intent was in no way to offend or demean—just to support our own team in a way we have done before.

Congratulations on a wonderful season and we wish you nothing but the best of luck in the future.

In 2016, Iowa State University released an audit showing there was a culture of “deep racial disparities” at Valley High School. These disparities create an inequitable and toxic environment at the school, according to the report from Iowa State researchers.