DES MOINES, IOWA — A high school known for its inability to adapt to diversity is making headlines after a controversy surrounding fan attire at a basketball game.
Valley High School has gained a reputation internally and publicly for not being as sensitive or celebratory when it comes to diversity. In 2016, a racially driven fight at the school led to an audit of its practices that revealed significant institutional and individual racism at the school.
On March 8, Des Moines North High School and Valley High met for a much-anticipated state tournament match. The North High basketball team features players from refugee families. At the game, a student section of Valley High fans happened to be donning American flag-patterned clothing. Initial media reports indicated the USA theme was taken by the North High supporters at the game as a divisive statement against their players and the community at large. Tensions continued to flare on social media, with a debate bubbling up as to whether it was a case of patriotism or racism at play during the game.
Many conservative observers took the stance that political correctness is now bleeding into middle America. Those remarks were met by an army of users arguing that it wasn’t the USA theme that was being taken exception to, but an onslaught of hateful comments spewing out of several American flag-wearing fans in the stands. Witnesses at the game claim that chants of “Deport them!” and “Send them back!” were heard, supposedly directed at the North High basketball team.
In an apparent attempt to calm the controversy and clear things up, the Valley High Student Council penned a letter to its rival, and hand-delivered it to North High’s school principal. In the letter, the school claimed that its fans have collectively worn USA-themed clothing to sporting events in the past, but apologized if their display of patriotism was seen as offensive to North High’s community. The letter of apology did not, however, address or acknowledge claims of the derogatory chants.