Opinion

Winning HS coach fired for watermelon-bashing victory ritual only a racist could see as racist

Over the objections of players, parents and the people who know him best, a South Carolina high school football coach has been fired from coaching because of a team victory ritual that involved making “monkey sounds” and smashing a watermelon with a face drawn on it in a black, Sharpie pen.

budwalpole1022newIn the fevered mind of a public school administrator, he might as well have had a Klan rally.

The firing occurred Monday at Academic Magnet School in North Charleston, according to the Charlotte Post and Courier.

Charleston County School Superintendent Nancy McGinley told the media and parents at a news conference Tuesday that Coach Bud Walpole was being removed from his coaching job because he failed to appreciate the “cultural insensitivity” of the ritual. (In a bit of mercy, he will be allowed to keep his job as a physical education teacher in the district.)

The ritual, which the team has been using to celebrate wins during the 6-2 season, came to the attention of higher-ups after the parent of a player on a team Academic Magnet beat in early September complained to a school board member, according to the Post and Courier.

When that board member brought it to McGinley’s attention, she asked Academic Magnet Principal Judith Peterson to look into it. Peterson reported back that all involved apparently thought it was an “innocent ritual,” McGinley said at the news conference.

That was bad enough.

Even worse, they “had no concerns about the potentially racially sensitive overtones or perceptions.”

So the district launched a deeper investigation that involved questioning players individually, the Post and Courier reported.

And the results of that investigation were a foregone conclusion.

Black Sharpie. Watermelon. Monkey sounds.

To a hyper-sensitive public school administrator, this was clearly no “innocent ritual.” There must have been “potentially racially sensitive overtones or perceptions” because a team of hyped up young men wouldn’t do something pointless like smash fragile fruit and make a bunch of noise just for something as silly and satisfying as a sports victory, would they?

So Coach Walpole has to go because, McGinley said, “accountability lies with adults” who “should not have sanctioned” the fun.

Anyone who disagrees and wants to help do something about it might want to know that petition has been started on change.org to have Walpole reinstated to his coaching position.

They might also want to know the kid who started it is junior defensive end Darius Nwokike – the only black player on the Academic Magnet squad.

The Twitter world, of course, had its own opinions on the subject.

“Softer” is not the word.

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