Jerseys worn by a Kings recreational youth basketball team were called out as racist and sexist Sunday by parents, leading to an early end to the team’s season.
Cincinnati Premier Youth Basketball League kicked the Kings team out of the league after the controversy. Yet why it took three weeks into the season to boot Kings Rec Basketball 7-12 team is what West Clermont team parent Tony Rue wants to know.
“There is enough hate, bullying, and aggressive behavior in the world that these kids, parents, and schools shouldn’t have to deal with bigotry and lewd innuendos on jerseys and in team names in a school district-represented recreational basketball league,” Rue wrote in a much-commented-upon Facebook post.
On Sunday, Rue’s wife pointed out the “Wet Dream Team” name of the Kings area team to him. They saw racist names of “Coon” and “Knee Grow” on the backs of player jerseys.
“This isn’t a typo, this isn’t a mistake, these are ideas that were thought of, discussed, agreed upon by adults and kids alike, printed on uniforms…and no one thought this was a bad idea or inappropriate?” Rue asked in his post.
The northern Cincinnati area Kings Mills team was playing its fourth week of games of the season at West Clermont. Kings Mills is a suburban area about 25 miles north of Downtown in Warren County.
“It was so blatant that it had to be fake,” Rue said. “Sadly it wasn’t.”
The sometimes-coach for his oldest son’s team watched West Clermont’s league representative step in at the start of the second quarter to talk to referees.
The game was called, Rue said. West Clermont parents kept the teams separated until Kings players left the gym.
Dawn Gould, a spokesperson for the Kings Local School District, said Monday night she cannot discuss whether any students will be disciplined due to privacy laws. She also said the team is not associated with the school district in any way and provided a statement:
“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.”
The situation has left some parents wondering how this could happen in their community.
Kings High School 1998 graduate Denise Anderson returned to the area after college.
“I love the area, my family is here, the schools are terrific,” Anderson said. “This incident is not what I think of when I think of our schools.”
Kings Mills is the type of place where teachers know students’ names outside the classroom, she said.
“I have not seen a comment from any parent that thinks this is OK,” Anderson said. “There are hundreds of parents on a school Facebook page that are outraged.”
Parents are trying to figure out what to do, she said.
“I don’t want this swept under the rug,” she said. “I want our community to learn from this and do better.”
The team consists of Kings Junior High students and is coached by Walt Gill. Gill didn’t return a phone message or multiple e-mails on Tuesday.
On Monday, the league issued a statement on his behalf: “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.”