No getting away from politics at high school basketball game

Is there some Minnesota passive aggressiveness at work in the displaying of a Trump campaign sign at a basketball game between a predominantly white team and a predominantly black one? Or is it just a love a politics?

A coach of the Minneapolis Roosevelt squad wondered in a Facebook post (since removed) about the intent of unfurling the sign at a basketball game on Tuesday night in Jordan.

“I coach a predominantly black inner city high school team,” Michael Walker wrote on his Facebook page. “We go out to a rural area in Jordan, MN and this is there. Please explain how and why this is appropriate at a high school basketball game?”

Jordan beat Minneapolis Roosevelt 67-to-58.

This afternoon, Matthew Helgerson, the superintendent of Jordan Public Schools, released this statement:

The Jordan School District is aware of concerns that have been raised about the events that occurred at the Boys Basketball game on January 15, 2019, where our team hosted the Minneapolis Roosevelt High School team. We 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.

The School District takes these concerns seriously and is reviewing this matter and collecting information. We cannot discuss the details as to the events that occurred or the School District’s review as this information is classified as non-public, private student data. However, we are working cooperatively with the Minneapolis School District and Roosevelt High School in our review and response to this event.

(h/t: Paul Tosto)

  • Jay T. Berken

    Wow, the comments on his feed are enlightening and going on in real-time and real names…

    • Erik Petersen

      This is its state now. On FB the MAGA people make a couple hundred comments on local stories that are only obliquely racial… on stories that are actually racial, its several hundred to a thou. Its certitudinal.

      • Jay T. Berken

        Good to know.

  • RBHolb

    “The School District takes these concerns seriously and is reviewing this matter and collecting information.”

    English translation: We have every intention of doing nothing about this at all.

  • AmiSchwab

    great parenting going on in jordan

  • John F.

    Boy, I wouldn’t want to be those administrators. Whatever actions (or non-actions) that are taken, someone isn’t going to be happy. There is almost no winning on social media.

  • lusophone

    Minnesota passive aggressive racism 101.

  • Erik Petersen

    Cmon Bob! How was that comment absolutely not true? A comment that true cant even be controversial.

  • Gary F
    • The Resistance

      One of the presidential candidates said the Bureau of Labor unemployment statistics were “pure fiction”.
      Maybe it was Martin O’Malley. Or Carly Fiorina. No, that’s not right…

      • Gary F

        Then both teams should look into the subject and learn why those numbers are reported like that. Once again, learn from it.

        • The Resistance

          No matter how the rate is calculated (and I do have issues with the official rate reporting so we might have a point of agreement on that), being president while unemployment rates for most races have been declining for 10 years doesn’t absolve someone of other racist statements and beliefs, and a campaign that can and has been used as a symbol for racism.

          By that measure, was George Bush 43 a more racist person than Trump just because black unemployment rates were higher during his terms? I don’t think it works that way.

          The article you reference evens states in regard to the decline in unemployment rates, “how much of this is a function of Trump’s leadership is unclear.”

          I’m all for learning moments but I’m not sure what’s being taught here other than how to pivot to different talking points in an effort to draw attention from the between-the-lines, wink-and-nod, plausibly deniable racist message that’s being displayed at a kids’ basketball game.

    • RBHolb

      So your definition of “learning moment” is “repeat a shopworn statistic used to support Trump.”

      Duly noted.

  • It’s not. That’s not the claim the coach is raising. If you read between the lines.

  • He’s certainly raising the question and if it’s not that then he’s wondering why a basketball game would be a Trump rally.

    If they this at every game, then it’s just a weird intermixing of politics and sport

    If this is the only time the students did this, then it’s probably being used to say something ugly without actually saying it.

    Too bad the school is hiding behind the privacy laws.

    Hopefully, someone who goes to games in Jordan will weigh in to explain what the deal is.

  • Meh. The kids made a public statement in a non sequitor. Comes with the territory.

    Would be interesting to hear from the black kid in the photo. We’ll have to crowdsource the kids’ IDs to be able to do that.

    Comments attached to the Facebook post say it was part of a “USA blackout theme night” whatever that is.

    The Strib suggests it might have been linked to Roosevelt policies of staying in the locker room for the NA

    In any event, the point remains what the headline says. There’s no escape from politics, even at a high school basketball game.

    • Jon

      In my opinion, which is what all the comments are, This image has nothing to do with racism. The Trump banner is part of the theme that night of USA. If you look around in this picture we get to see, many of the students are dressed in stars & stripes, or red-white-blue. The coach, the StTrib and others need to quit jumping to conclusions.

      • The “theme night” was not a school-sanctioned event, for the record. It sounds like the kids declared it a theme night. It’s still reasonable to ask why and whether it has anything, for example, to do with the team that was playing and, moreover, the practice of staying in the locker room for the national anthem. It’s clear a political message being delivered and it’s not at all unreasonable to question the intent and timing of the message delivered in an environment that doesn’t usually deliver political messages.

      • lusophone

        If it was a student initiated “theme night”, like Bob noted, then that makes it even worse. The same question applies, do they declare theme nights for other games? I wonder what some of the other theme nights were, if they do have them regularly.

        • Jon

          Theme nights are quite common these days at school events. Within the last two days I have seen notices for “Purple” or “Pink” themed events for certain causes. I cannot claim to know for sure whether it was a “student” initiated theme night or the school or who? But come on, what is wrong with having a USA themed night?

          • As I noted earlier, there was no school-sponsored or -sanctioned theme night.

          • RBHolb

            I suppose there’s nothing wrong with a “USA themed night.” Why would such a theme include only a banner supporting Trump’s re-election? At the very least, if it were a generalized celebration of patriotism, shouldn’t it include election signs from other candidates (“Warren 2020”, for example)?

          • Jon

            I can appreciate the question about the banner and other candidates, my question would be, how accessible is a “Warren 2020” banner? With Trump being the current president, and as controversial as he has been, that promo stuff is all over. Just a thought.

          • RBHolb

            If you can’t find other banners for 2020, then:

            Use banners from past campaigns (“Obama 2012”);
            Don’t use real candidate names–use Wintergreen and Throttlebottom, for example; or
            Leave the election banners out of it. There is more to patriotism than elections.

      • JrMonte

        But that doesn’t fit the Left’s narrative that all Conservatives are racist.

  • He never actually said that, however. But obviously it’s a political statement at a basketball game. Asking why is fair game.

    At least there were no Steve King posters

  • Ickster

    Making a large display of support for Trump at a high school basketball game (rather than a political rally or a bumper sticker, particularly when it’s a visiting majority black team in a mostly white area . . . well, yeah. It’s hard to not think racism is a very possible motivation.

  • The Resistance

    Would it be different if they put up a Steve King 2020 sign? Same cloth, different cut.

  • The Resistance

    Maybe there are good people on both sides.

  • Racism is always expressed through symbols and
    actions with deniabilityy(baraboo and Confederate flag as “history”).

  • Totally fair. Trump has stirred racial animus and become a symbol. Using that symbol in such an unusual setting invites interpretation.

  • The Resistance

    Not if one of the sides is racist.

    • JrMonte

      So I guess that makes all Democrats anti semitic because of Omar.

  • That’s the sort of thing that becomes a symbol when the KKK and white spremacists adopt it. Collateral damage of those who love the guy for other reasons apparently related to a basketball game.

  • The Resistance

    My world is a little more clear cut. If you vote for someone who doesn’t know why white supremacy is wrong, you’re supporting racism. It doesn’t really have much to do with the local issues that affect the 4th district of Iowa. In my world that’s a given. But I’m kind of weird. Ignore me.

  • No it’s really not. It’s the residue of an appeal to an ugly side and Republicans have been to afraid or otherwise unwilling to confront the hijacking of their party. They should have seen it coming. Sooner or later, they were going to get fleas

    • Sonny T

      Is there the chance the racism angle is exaggerated for political gain? This is pretty standard political fare. I can name endless examples from either side. I won’t post again, just wanted to suggest jim may not be so far afield.

      • Yes, basketball coaches at Roosevelt are notorious for being political capitalists. /S

        • Sonny T

          I meant the Trump thing, in this post and extant in our political environment. You misunderstood.

          The coach’s uneasiness is perfectly valid, given an environment fanned for political gain.

    • JrMonte

      So how about the Democrats electing Omar and Tlaib. Are they unwilling to call out anti semites and homophobes?

  • The Resistance

    I think if you support racists you are a racist, so if you think Trump is a racist (which I do… Charlottesville, birtherism, Judge Curiel, etc.) that means that of the 58% of eligible people who voted, in my little mind 48% of those are racist. But I’ll double check my math and get back to you. I’m not so good at cyphering. It does seem like that would mean there are a staggering number of racist Americans, so I’m sure I must have gotten that number wrong.

    Besides, this post is about basketball so I’m way off-topic.

  • The Resistance

    Sure. It is a difficult topic. Thanks for expressing your views as well.

  • LDCornell

    I guess if that sign has been at every home game, then it is a political statement that may or may not be appropriate for any sporting event. That would be up to the school board. If that sign was *only* at this game, then I think that the people with the sign should provide a very brief explanation as to why that is the case. Maybe it would be, “We are sorry our intentions were misinterpreted. It was purely a political statement, and we all oppose any kind of racism.”

  • Sonny T

    The kids shouldn’t have done this, but paradoxically, the offence is made possible by a rabid campaign to tar the president as racist. We live in weird times.

    • kevins

      But Sonny T…he is a racist.

      • >>But Sonny T…he is a racist.<<

        I was going to point that out.

      • Sonny T

        Partisans called Obama an anti-Semite. You want to argue that too?

        • kevins

          I missed that news report, but as I recall, partisans called President Obama a lot of things.

  • lindblomeagles

    In the past, I would have jumped onto the discussion about Trump and his connection to racism. I promised myself I would turnover a new leaf in 2019, so I’m going to focus on what appears to be happening here. #1: Anytime you bring a political banner to a basketball game, you’ve already PLANNED the message you’re intending to say (most fans bring signs about the team because a basketball team really is about supporting the team, especially the friends and sons and daughters playing for the team at the high school level). With that in mind, clearly the students intended to get Roosevelt High School’s attention in such a way that would provoke, at the very least, an uncomfortable atmosphere. #2: Administrators AT THE GAME didn’t ask the students to remove or take down said political advertisement. I announce games for a team locally in the Twin Cities (this is my 10th season). I can assure you, if something inappropriate goes up, administrators put an end to it quickly; therefore, it can be assumed officials at the game were comfortable with the students’ advertisement. That, to me, gets to Bob’s tagline, where Jordan, until outrage swamped the school, thought it was okay to politicize their or this basketball game. When we understand that, only then can we understand why Roosevelt’s coach, and Roosevelt fans and players, were not happy about this.

  • There has never been a more polarizing president than Trump, and we all know that by now. Public discourse come to a boil, thanks to his childish name-calling, constant lying, and erratic behavior. Into this mix a group of “fans” elect to display a Trump banner at a school sporting event and the result is predictable. I don’t know anyone who is on the fence with Trump, but I do know that if you wear a MAGA hat in public you are inviting others to make certain assumptions about your motives.

  • Barton

    I’d like to point out that Roosevelt is not just a mainly African-American high school. It is a school filled mainly with the children of East African immigrants as well as recent East African immigrants themselves and a significant number of students of Mexican or other Latin American heritage. When you consider that aspect with this sign and POTUS’s loud and awful rhetoric on immigrants, I think it is quite unambiguous what the students of Jordan were attempting to do.

    It has been decades, but I remember playing a HS bball game in Jordan (the late 80s) and their student body yelled racist crap at our team’s captain throughout the game. The refs did nothing, their coach did nothing, and it was hell. Seems to me the area hasn’t changed at all.

    • lusophone

      Yep, was thinking the exact same thing about Roosevelt’s student population.

  • Maybe there are good people on both sides.

    that is our only hope.

    You missed the sarcasm…

  • Ironically, our current immigration policy, at least with respect to visas, is based on doing exactly that.