Right response to ethnic taunt

Thursday, October 17, 2013
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There’s no question about it: A derogatory chant led by a small group of fans near the end of last Saturday’s Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake football game was pretty bad sportsmanship, meant to taunt players on the opposing (and soundly trounced) Amsterdam High School team. Even worse, the chant focused on the city’s (and football team’s) dominant ethnic group — Puerto Ricans — elevating its offensiveness from the usual tasteless taunts of an exuberant athletic crowd.

Thankfully, the reaction by BH-BL’s coaches, school officials and students has been right, from the very beginning: Coach Matt Shell stopped the game, got on the public address system and threatened to forfeit the game (which BH-BL was in the process of winning, 49-0) if the chanting continued. On Monday, district officials sent a letter of apology to the Amsterdam City School District, making it clear that they considered the students’ boorishness “unacceptable.”

In a matter of two days, roughly 900 BH-BL students signed a letter by the president of the school’s student government (and a football player) disavowing the action and offering to hold an event for Amsterdam students aimed at smoothing things over. Even three of the six to 12 kids believed to have conducted the chant stepped forward and accepted responsibility for their behavior.

District officials are determined to punish them, and identify and punish the other miscreants; that’s not a bad idea, but we hope the punishment is confined to extracurricular activities and does not resort to classroom suspensions. The action took place at a school function on school grounds, but was not during school hours. And while it appears to have been intended in a derogatory manner, there is undeniably some ambiguity about the term — “Amsterico” — which even some members of the city’s Puerto Rican community use in a neutral way to describe their dominance in the city.

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October 17, 2013
6:39 a.m.
reader1 says...

So, you should not be suspended for behavior at non-academic events? How would you deter inappropriate behavior?
RE: ambiguous nature - I doubt the intent was ambiguous.
Don't have to crush the knuckleheads with the response, but, writer is basically suggesting what amounts to a non-response.

BH-BL response so far - has been fantastic. Classy, thoughtful, and quick.

Feel bad for the players - a few nitwits in the stands tainted a huge win. Maybe in lieu of suspension - I'm sure the athletic department and groundskeeper could use some forced student labor for the rest of the year.

October 17, 2013
7:20 a.m.
wmarincic says...

Forced groundskeeper sounds like a great idea. It might make the difference of which path they take in life.

October 17, 2013
8:20 a.m.

Where is all the "Wandering Dago" supporters on this one.....

October 17, 2013
1:28 p.m.
wmarincic says...

Totally different Scott, Wandering Dago is an Italian owned business that is using that name.

October 17, 2013
3:05 p.m.
gina99 says...

Much ado about nothing. The best revenge will be administered by the Rams on the field next year. Where's the similar outrage over the Mt Pleasant girls fight club?

October 17, 2013
8:37 p.m.
roberttodt says...

Taunting is one thing, they definitly needed to stop the chanting. But, where is the racial slur? Are you saying that people from Peurto Rico should not be proud of their heritage?

October 18, 2013
11:15 p.m.
irene58 says...

So, it would be ok to drink at the prom, as long as it isn't during school hours? Or at a dance? Or any other sporting event?

Forced groundskeepers - yea, see what the union has to say about that.....

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