California high school basketball team stripped of championship title after tortillas thrown at Latino players

California Interscholastic Federation said action was ‘unacceptable and warrants sanctions’

Clara Hill
Friday 02 July 2021 13:15 BST
Coronado High School have had their basketball championship removed following what some people have deemed a “racial incident”
Coronado High School have had their basketball championship removed following what some people have deemed a “racial incident” (CBS Los Angelese)

A California high school basketball team has had their championship title removed after they threw tortillas at the losing team that consisted of mainly Latino players.

The decision was made by the California Interscholastic Federation in Sacramento following the Coronado High Schools victory over the Orange Glen High School, a game that ended with the score 60-57, making Coronado High School the winner of the Division 4-A Regional Basketball Championship.

However, this was declared null and void after video footage emerged of the winning team pelting the losing team with tortillas, an incident the CIF described as a display of “discriminatory and racially insensitive behaviors” against the majority Latino team.

The awarding body issued a statement that read, “The CIF State Executive Director reiterates that discriminatory and racially insensitive behaviour toward an opponent contravene the principles of education-based athletics.”

They said the move was “unacceptable and warrants sanctions” on 30 June.

According to CBS Los Angeles, The Coronado High School board voted to remove the team’s coach JD Laaperi on 24 June in response to the backlash prompted by the tortilla throwing.

At the board meeting, Mr Laaperi said: “I do not condone this behaviour. Coronado High School does not condone this behaviour and is already taking appropriate action.”

The captain of the team Wayne McKinney said at at the board meeting: “The tortillas were brought by someone not associated with the team, however, the throwing of the tortillas during the scuffle after the game was unsportsmanlike and inexcusable.”

In response, a man at the meeting said: “This is a racial incident. No matter how it was cut. I don’t care who stands here and says otherwise.”

Along with being stripped of the championship, these sanctions include being on “probation” for the the next three academic years, disallowed from hosting preseason games, a move that encompasses all of Coronado High School sports teams, not just basketball.

The CIF wrote: “Adherence to the principles of Pursuing Victory with Honor is expected at all levels of high school athletic events and, in particular, championship contests.”

Additionally, all members, student and facility, of the sports department must take “racial/cultural sensitivity training”, and other management courses.

The CIF also urge the Coronado High School to work with Orange Glen High School to foster a better understanding of each other. They suggest restorative justice programmes and collaborating on local community charity work.

In their announcement, the CIF mentioned the importance of learning about the perspective of the victims of their actions.

The Independent reached out to Coronado High School’s principal for his comments on the California Interscholastic Federation’s ruling.

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