ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. – Students at a Catholic high school at the New Jersey shore have been warned but not punished after two of them dressed as a monkey and a banana during a game against a mostly black basketball team.
The Press of Atlantic City reported The Cape-Atlantic League’s supervising board of referees said the students at Holy Spirit High School acted offensively during the game against Atlantic City last week.
Jay Connell, Holy Spirit’s athletic director, acknowledged the actions violated league rules on sportsmanship and promised it would not happen again.
“I am not going kick anyone out of school or whip anybody. All I can do is apologize; I can’t take it back,” Connell said. “There is no punishment. The punishment is that it will be an event that will not happen again, and that is the punishment for Holy Spirit.”
Holy Spirit’s starting five players are also black.
Atlantic City Athletic Director Anthony Nistico also called the actions offensive.
“What I am appalled at is there are adults there that let this happen,” he said. “These two students were allowed to walk into the gym in these costumes and with this shower curtain. What were the adults thinking? Where were the refs?”
“If I was there, I would’ve stopped the game and told the team to go to the locker room,” he said. “Because it is Black History Month, it makes it even more offensive and insensitive. It’s unfortunate that it would happen in this day and age.”
Nistico was at the girls varsity basketball game between the two schools that night.
“There’s absolutely nothing that was intended to be racial whatsoever. It was a group of kids trying to have fun with something they saw on television,” Gillespie said. “There was no malice there whatsoever. If anybody wants to make it out to be that, it’s not. We have a respectable school community. We have four of our starters that are African-American kids. I mean, come on. That’s not what that’s about. It was just kids not thinking through what their perception should be, but there was absolutely nothing racial and somebody is making something racial about it.”
USA TODAY High School Sports contributed to this report.