A Texas school district has filed a complaint alleging that students from a rival school engaged in racism by chanting “USA, USA” at a basketball game. The students involved in the incident were reprimanded and forced to apologize.
The San Antonio Independent School District filed the complaint with the University Interscholastic League, the governing body for athletics in Texas. They allege that students at Alamo Heights High School began chanting “USA, USA” after they defeated Edison High School to win a region basketball championship.
Edison’s team is predominantly Hispanic, said Leslie Price, a spokesperson for the San Antonio ISD.
“The implication as they are not American citizens,” Price told Fox News. “We understand competiveness and rivalry, but you need to choose your words and think about the meaning behind them.”
Price said she believes the “USA, USA” chant was racially motivated.
“It was chanted selectively at a school that is predominantly Hispanic and there was understanding of that,” she said.
Price said the school district was bombarded with a number of people who found the “USA, USA” chant to be “very disrespectful.”
“That might be chanted at international soccer games,” she said. “But this is not a chant that these students chant at all of their basketball games. It was selective.”
According to local news accounts, the chanting occurred immediately after Alamo Heights won the championship. It lasted about five seconds before the head coach ordered the students to stop.
Alamo Heights ISD Superintendent Kevin Brown told MySanAntonio.com that he had apologized to San Antonio ISD officials.
“Unfortunately, after the game, we had a handful of students who made a bad decision and we’re very sorry it happened,” Brown told the newspaper. “They made a mistake and we’re going to use this as a learning experience.”
Price said it’s not the first time their students have been victims of insensitive chants. Last year students at another school chanted “USA, USA” and “Arizona.” It happened during the national discussion on Arizona’s controversial immigration bill.
The school district’s athletic director, Gil Garza, told the newspaper that the chant cannot be ignored.
“Our community is fed up,” he told MySanAntonio.com. “It’s really frustrating that kids work so hard to get to this level and there’s another group of kids degrading them.”
Jamey Harrison, deputy director of the University Interscholastic League, told Fox News that they have an “ongoing investigation” into the incident and at this point, it is unclear if the chant was racially motivated.
“Clearly, officials from San Antonio ISD felt it was,” Harrison said. “It’s my understanding they felt like it was motivated by the fact that most of the students on their team were of Hispanic origin.”
Harrison said they do not condone in any way “any type of derogatory chant or racially motivated chant at one of our events.”
Should the investigation uncover wrongdoing, he said the school could face a whole range of sanctions — from probation to potential suspensions.
Television station KSAT said the students who chanted “USA USA” were banned from the state title games and will be forced to apologize.
“We just hope that people know that that’s not who we are and we’re not going to let it happen again,” Brown told KSAT.