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.