The NBA's concern over fan behavior this week was mirrored at the prep ranks. A league in Washington has imposed sanctions against Connell High School athletic programs for racist jeers by students at a girls varsity basketball game last week.
According to komonews.com
, the South Central Athletic Conference voted to not allow postseason competition for the boys and girls basketball teams at the school. In addition, no fans, including parents or students, will be allowed at any league events until the end of the season June 12.
A league championship wrestling event scheduled at Connell has also been moved to another high school.
"We strive to create a competitive, yet positive, atmosphere where everyone feels welcome," a SCAC press release read. "The SCAC encourages and promotes good sportsmanship by student-athletes, coaches, parents and spectators."
That clearly wasn't the case in a May 22 girls basketball game at Connell against Zillah. Video recorded racist language and offensive gestures at Zillah players.
Connell athletic director Stephen Pyeatt apologized to the Zillah community on Facebook earlier this week: "I want to take this time to apologize for the racist actions that transpired while I was in charge of the girls basketball game on May 22, 2021. I know that what happened has caused an immense amount of pain to you as a player, coach, fan, family member, and community member, and I am deeply sorry. … You did not deserve this in any way, and no one should ever have to be subjected to what happened."
The incident comes the same week three NBA teams — the Knicks, Jazz and 76ers — indefinitely banned fans for unruly and disrespectful behavior. Among the actions were alleged racist remarks slurred at Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant by at least one of three Utah fans who were removed and barred from games.
With COVID numbers improving, the return of fans is increasing in all sports at all levels, sparking an opportune teaching moment, according to high school leaders.
"We are going to strive to improve sportsmanship and to engage school spirit as a league," SCAC president Ty Kime told the Yakima Herald
. "There'll be some things we set in place for next year to further educate coaches, players and communities."