From the Press Box: Boone, DC-G student sections cross the line of acceptable behavior

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Opinion and Insight

United States Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, in the 1964 case Jacobellis v. Ohio, famously said, “I know it when I see it,” when it came to the obscene.

Well, on Saturday and Monday evenings, I knew obscenity when I heard it, and it came from, in the first instance, the Boone student section, and in the second, the DC-G student section.


The latter incident has received much notoriety, largely because racial slurs — and thinly veiled racial slurs — were slung repeatedly against the Perry boys basketball team in their 57-50 win over DC-G in a Class 3A District 15 Semifinal in Adel.

Because Monday’s actions were restricted in length, I turn to Saturday’s uncontrolled ugliness first.

The Perry girls were in Boone to face the 13th-ranked Toreadors (18-4), who had defeated the Jayettes by a combined 107-51 in their two regular season meetings. Boone would win, 75-36, Saturday, but the loss is not what left the Perry faithful rightfully furious.

I was at the far end of the court in the first half and could clearly hear the Boone student section chanting that one of the Perry players “needed a wheelchair.” I also clearly heard them — again, from more than 80 feet away in a noisy gym — questioning whether a particular Jayette even knew how to dribble. These were not one-off, one-time slams from one idiotic individual but the repeated chants and taunts of whole groups of students.

The second half was worse.

Apparently with their team leading by over 40 points and with nothing left to “root” for, the students — completely unchecked — turned it up (or down, as it were) several notches.

Some years ago the use of artificial noisemakers was banned from high school athletic events, and yet several were plainly and repeatedly heard. The chanting of “airball!” and then the use of “airball” whenever the player responsible for the miss touches the ball on following possessions was also expressly banned. Again, no matter.

A Jayette player fell to the floor and was, in vicious tones, told to “Get up! Get up!” and another was questioned for — to be polite — her physical build.

As if none of that were out of line, the topper came with the chant (and, sadly, I quote) “God made the rivers/God made the streams/God made the Jayettes/Even God makes mistakes.” I was incredulous.

Someone — I do not know who — was sent to stand by the student section after halftime, ostensibly to restore some order. He did nothing of the sort and simply stood playing with his phone while this mockery of sportmanship was allowed to continue.

I have had professional dealings with Boone Athletic Director Larry Moklestad for many years before coming to Perry and cannot believe, had he been present, the jeering would have been allowed to continue. However, others in authority were in the gym, and they did nothing to stop the sullying of Boone’s good name.

Girls head coach Jim McPartland must have heard what was happening. A quick grab of the PA microphone and a harsh “cool it” would have gone a long way and been much appreciated, but while I believe McPartland in no way condoned what was happening, he did nothing to stop it.

I remember thinking on the drive to Adel Monday that at least nothing approaching Saturday’s shenanigans was in store. I was wrong.

The DC-G students, in an apparent attempt to get under the skin of the Perry boys team, repeatedly chanted “Trump! Trump! Trump!” which, rightly or wrongly, has been recently used as a racial slur/threat against Hispanics. Chants of “Mini-Mexico!” were also clearly heard.

Again, these were not the utterances of one or two buffoons, but rather of dozens of students, who repeated the thinly disguised race-baiting numerous times.

The difference between the two contests is that, once DC-G athletic director Steve Watson became aware of the ugliness, he put a stop to it. I also firmly believe Mustang head coach Joel Rankin would, in no way, approve of such behavior.

The parents of the Boone and DC-G students and their greater communities must be made aware of what was done. Surely they cannot possibly be proud to have such dishonor associated with their schools and towns.

Boone school officials also need to explain why it was that no effort whatsoever was made to stop the nonsense Saturday. The Perry and Boone boys meet Thursday at 7 p.m. in Johnston, and I am willing to bet there will not be single out-of-line peep from the Toreador students. If there is, then the issue needs to be addressed directly by the IHSAA, headquartered right there in Boone itself.

It is to the great credit of the Perry coaches — Bluejay head coach Ned Menke, you may recall, is the 2016 Character Counts Coach of the Year — for keeping a lid on their players’ emotions and keeping them focused on their respective games, and not the immature clowns in the opposing student sections. That the players deserve credit goes without saying.

Credit goes also to the Perry fans for keeping their cool and not setting a poor example.

And great credit goes to the Perry student section (few were at Saturday’s game) itself, which, while raucous and emotional, followed the “Bluejay Way” and showed all in attendance what class looks and sounds like.

27 COMMENTS

  1. How can we expect decency from our children? They see a candidate running for the U.S. presidency who swears, promotes bigotry and bullies people, while people cheer him on. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. At a rally in Alabama, Trump said a protester should be roughed up. If we don’t expect better from our presidential candidates, how in the world can we expect more from our children?

  2. It is our responsibility as parents to raise our children better than this, not the responsibility of a presidential candidate. No one is to blame for the actions of these students but the students themselves. We need to quit blaming others and deal with the problem.

    • Ellie, you are so correct. Parents need to parent and stop blaming others for what their children do. Thank you for speaking up.

  3. I was not at either of these games but calling out different individuals on why they didn’t stand up and say something to these “bafoons” when you yourself did nothing makes no sense to me. It should not have to come from specific individuals. It takes a village to raise one child, so if you see something that was offensive enough to prompt an article such as this, get up and address it yourself. Then follow up with the respective schools with a complaint vs bashing entire groups of students, coaches, AD who maybe weren’t aware. I have been to plenty of games where, sitting one section over couldn’t understand the chants of students. I would bet the coach was coaching. Why didn’t the Perry coach stand up for his team? Why didn’t their parents stand up for their kids?

  4. As a BHS graduate and a former BHS girls basketball player, I have no words to appropriately apologize for the behavior of the current BHS students. In my day, such behavior would not have been considered by the students and, if it had, those students would have been kicked out and disciplined.
    What absolutely floors me is the behavior of the adults who were supposed to be in charge. There is NO excuse for their choice to do nothing. I am simply appalled.
    I have contacted the BHS principal and left a message on his answering machine. Hopefully, he will call me back with an explanation. I also asked what will be done in the future to prevent this unacceptable display of immaturity and down right mean behavior.

  5. Let’s clear the air.

    “Trump” is NOT a racial slur, it’s a guy’s name.
    “Mexican” is not a race, it’s a nationality.
    Legal status is not a matter of personal choice, it’s Federal law.
    “Air ball” is NOT the worst thing that can happen to a kid.
    If you see something, say something – YOU didn’t.

    You are using the framework and language of the Civil Rights era, which was justified at that time, in those circumstances. It is contrived and perverted here.

    We USED to be taught “sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” When did this wise axiom become false? We should not lead with our emotions, we should lead with our ACTIONS. Let the play speak. The rest is just noise. We have raised a generation that emotes at everything, that acts on nothing, and produces little more than its own personal pain. GROW UP. GET UP. DO SOMETHING.

    And the next time I go to the State of Iowa Driver’s License Station and get sent home because I only have 3 of the 4 pieces of required paperwork for the US citizen I’m trying to license, and then see an illegal get an interpreter and a “pass” with no paperwork, I might lose my mind. People know injustice “when they see it.”

    And I’ve seen the Perry teams play this season in Perry, and it wasn’t all roses there, either. It’s life. Get used to it, because it’s not going to adjust to you.

  6. In our community, technical fouls are given to the team when their fans make racial or ethnic slurs toward another team. Kudos to the students and fans of Perry for keeping their heads held high and ignoring the ignorance!

  7. I’m ashamed of my hometown of Boone. It’s not the Boone I knew. Kudos to the opposing teams for keeping their cool. Just because that numbskull Trump says something doesn’t mean we have to emulate him. He (Trump) is as bad as Hitler looking for scapegoats.

  8. No, Colbey, there is a line drawn between “competitive spirit” and “disrespectful,” “unruly” and “mob mentality,” and Boone crossed it. Don’t make excuses. Just move on and show that you are all better than that!

  9. First of all, please read the article, and realize he is complaining about two different crowds. I was at the Boone game, and for sure it wasn’t as bad as he makes it out to be. Chanting “airball” or one or two kids saying a stupid comment? Noise makers? I didn’t hear any, and you would think the whole game had noisemakers from the way he sounds. It was good old home court excitement. The game was so out of hand score-wise there really wasn’t anything to get rowdy about. And by the way, the use of “airball” isn’t banned in Iowa. It’s banned in Wisconsin. His factual account of this game is pretty off, to say the least, for someone who was there.

  10. This is a very poorly written article. How does any decent news company publish a story like this? Very cloudy. Boone’s student section is being linked with racial slurs said by DC-G’s student section. These were two different games played at two different times. The only thing that this editorial is doing right now is firing people up. Good luck with having any control of the students at the next game. I am now rooting for the Tornadoes next game, and I am from Perry. ThePerryNews.com better clean it up soon.

  11. Please let me apologize to the Perry community and anyone who may have been offended at Saturday’s Perry vs. Boone girls’ basketball game. There were incidences where some of our students did not demonstrate the sportsmanship we typically see in our student body.

    During and after the game, individual students were addressed, and on Monday these concerns were addressed with the entire student body. As a result, in our boys’ basketball game against ADM Monday and our girls’ basketball game against Pella Tuesday, the students were very supportive of our players and respectful of the opposing team.

    We look forward to our boys’ basketball game Thursday to return to a positive environment of good sportsmanship and respect between our two communities.

    Brad Manard
    Boone Superintendent

    • Kudos to Brad Manard! 100% correct response. Hopefully DC-G will likewise simply own up to the issue and address it appropriately.

  12. Thank you, Mr. Manard, for your kind comments. In my many years of covering events at which Boone was a competitor, I had never previously been exposed to the kind of actions that happened Saturday.

    Your prompt attention to the issue is greatly appreciated and, I am sure, will be well received by all in Perry. We wish coach McPartland and the Toreador girls the very best of luck as they move along in the playoffs and look forward to an exciting game Thursday in Johnston.

    • Hello, my name is Daly Jarnagin, and I attended the Perry vs DCG basketball game Monday night. Many things in your article are not true. For example, the “Mini Mexico” chant that Perry fans claimed they heard never happened. The reason I know this is because I was in the midst of DCG’s student section. Also, Perry is not completely innocent. Multiple students were giving us the bird for the majority of the game, including the “Student Section Leader” that was interviewed on KCCI and WHO. They called one of DCG’s players a ginger every time he touched the ball, and chants of “Small White D,” which could be argued is just as offensive as the “Trump” chant due to its offensive nature towards Caucasians. I’m not justifying the chant by any means, but it’s not fair to tarnish DCG’s reputation by making it seem like we attacked an innocent group of people like a pack of wild dogs. DCG has always prided itself in having a positive and supportive student section. This bad lighting being shed on our school due to one unclear instance is outraging the entire student body. It is especially not fair to consider “Trump” a racist chant just because of the large Hispanic population of Perry. There is no proof to suggest it was meant to be racist. I would appreciate a response because the way you described our school is disgusting.

  13. Stephanie M, it’s a good idea to spell properly the word you use when directly quoting a reporter’s work. Mr. Webster did not call anyone a “bafoon”…..he called them the correct spelling of “buffoons”

  14. I recently attended a boys basketball game at Boone and witnessed the worse sportsmanship from the student section I have ever seen. The students were swearing “bull____” throughout the entire game. They were making fun of some of our players’ physical features by calling them terrible names each time they touched the ball. When one of our players was fouled with an elbow to the face, in which he fell and got a bloody nose, the Boone student section cheered and yelled, “You need a tampon for your nose?” This behavior went on the entire game until the fourth quarter, when the students started to make fun of our players and cheerleaders by making gestures with their hands and bodies to indicate they were mentally handicapped. This was crossing the line. I went over to their side, looking for an adult (since the majority of the time there was nobody there), and I found a Boone teacher who agreed with me that the behavior was over the line and that she asked them to stop but they wouldn’t. I asked for the athletic director and after some time looking for him, I found him on the opposite side of the gym as far away from the student section as he could get. I asked him if he allowed this behavior, and he said they were kids, and they are rowdy at first, but they would settle down soon. I pointed out that it was the fourth quarter, and it was only getting worse. I told him about the name calling, swearing and inappropriate gestures making fun of mentally handicapped people, and his only response was, “I wouldn’t like that either,” and “Some of the kids doing it aren’t too smart to begin with.” I was shocked! This was the athletic director, and he wasn’t going to do anything about it until I asked him if he was going to have someone stop the behavior. He reluctantly went to the student section and stood there, saying nothing. I have been told this is not the first time this has happened, and letters have been written to the school about it, but nothing has changed.

    • It wasn’t the players who offended you. It was the student section. Therefore, without first warning a school, a two-game suspension would be highly unpresidented.

  15. Nothing can offend you unless you choose to allow it to do so. It may be an unconscious choice, but it is still a choice. Therefore, if something offends you, it is your problem and no one else’s. There is no such thing as a constitutional right not to be offended.

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