Basketball team quits MLK tourney after their fans flaunt Trump flag
A high school basketball team in Minnesota has come under fire — and is now pulling out of a tournament scheduled for Martin Luther King Jr. Day — after its fans displayed a “Trump 2020” flag during a game against predominantly black inner-city kids.
“Please explain how and why this is appropriate at a high school basketball game?” wrote coach Michael Walker, of Minneapolis Roosevelt High School, in a Facebook caption last Wednesday following the game against Jordan High School.
The post was accompanied by a photo showing a group of Jordan fans who — aside from the one black student sitting off to the side — are all white and displaying the “Trump 2020: Keep America Great!” flag.
“I coach a predominantly black inner city high school team,” Walker said. “We go out to a rural area in Jordan, MN and this is there.”
A parent from Jordan, who said she owned the flag, claimed on Facebook that it was shown off as part of a long-scheduled USA blackout theme night, but Walker and others weren’t buying it.
“Whether those students or the mother who owns that banner cares to admit it or not, those students took it with a specific intention in mind,” a user said. “Politics has no business in a school basketball game.”
According to the Star Tribune, Roosevelt’s team had been causing an uproar on social media for choosing to remain in their locker room during the playing of the national anthem at home and away games.
“The Jordan team was made aware of that practice before the game,” said Minneapolis schools spokesman Dirk Tedmon.
The mother who owned the Trump flag, Bridget Kahn, told the Tribune that her son and his classmates were simply “supporting their president.”
“They don’t have a racist bone in their body,” she said.
The Jordan school district’s superintendent didn’t care, though, and later released a statement condemning the flag stunt — and calling for an investigation.
“[District officials] regret that Roosevelt players and their coaching staff, fans and community were made to feel uncomfortable, as it is always our intent to graciously host our opponents,” said superintendent Matt Helgerson, according to the Tribune. “[The district is] reviewing this matter and collecting information [and] working cooperatively with the Minneapolis School District and Roosevelt High School in our review and response to this event.”
On Sunday, Jordan officials announced that the high school would not be playing in Monday’s “MLK Showcase” game as a result.
“After discussion with the MLK Showcase event coordinator, a decision has been made to pull out,” explained Helgerson. “Given recent events, we believe the participation of our team in the event will detract from the hard work of the athletes and the upbeat focus of the MLK Showcase … We will continue to work with the Minneapolis School District … to move forward in a positive direction.”
The coach of the team that Jordan was scheduled to play on Monday said he felt bad for the kids on the team, but hopes they will spend the “entire day” thinking about “why they are not playing and every aspect of that, from black and white issues to basketball issues.”