This past weekend our own Marcel Mutoni brought you the story of alleged racist taunts at a football game in Cumberland, Maryland between Fort Hill High School and Dunbar High School of Washington DC. To recap, Dunbar's celebrated coach Craig Jefferies took his team on a road trip to western Maryland that ended abruptly when he pulled his team off of the field and forfeited the game when some Fort Hill players allegedly began directing racial slurs at his players. In the wake of the incident Fort Hill's players and coaches have been quick to deny any wrongdoing, although an internal investigation is underway, along with an investigation by the Maryland attorney general’s Office of Civil Rights. However it appears that Steve Lewis, the principal at Fort Hill, doesn't need some investigation to tell him where things went wrong. This week he provided the Cumberland Times-News (via the Baltimore Sun's Varsity Letters blog) with a quote that could very well be more offensive than anything uttered by a group of teenagers last Friday night.
"I’ve harped on this before, but we need to play local football," Lewis said. "When you play teams from out of the area that you don’t really know, it’s good in some situations and bad in others. ... When we stay local, we all know each other, our programs and our personalities. We know what we’re getting. We get along with each other and like each other, and we play great football. We need to play local football."
Ho-ly shit. It sure sounds as if the school's principal, the man charged with guiding hundreds of young minds, believes that a school like Dunbar (98% African American) should stick to playing against their own kind in their own city while his school plays against neighboring facilities with which he's more "comfortable." It certainly is sad to think that an educator such as Principal Lewis could possibly believe that the solution to problems such as these is for seperate communities to remain closed off in their own insular worlds. If anything this situation goes to show how important it is for members of different communities and cultures to interact with one another in an attempt to put this kind of ugliness behind us as a society. If Israeli Jews and Arabs can come together on the soccer field to develop a common bond with a goal of future peace you would hope that a couple of American high schools separated by less than 150 miles could get together for a game of football. Football controversy a missed opportunity Racial Prejudice Pops Up in an Arena Normally Free of It It's Been a Swell Week for Racism In Sports Dunbar's Jefferies Is a Leader of Men