CINCINNATI -- Jerseys worn by a Kings recreational youth basketball team were called out as racist and sexist Sunday by parents, leading to an early end to the team's season.
Cincinnati Premier Youth Basketball League kicked the Kings team out of the league after the controversy. Yet why it took three weeks into the season to boot Kings Rec Basketball 7-12 team is what West Clermont team parent Tony Rue wants to know.
"There is enough hate, bullying, and aggressive behavior in the world that these kids, parents, and schools shouldn’t have to deal with bigotry and lewd innuendos on jerseys and in team names in a school district-represented recreational basketball league," Rue wrote in a much-commented-upon Facebook post.
On Sunday, Rue's wife pointed out the "Wet Dream Team" name of the Kings area team to him. They saw racist names of "Coon" and "Knee Grow" on the backs of player jerseys.
"This isn’t a typo, this isn’t a mistake, these are ideas that were thought of, discussed, agreed upon by adults and kids alike, printed on uniforms...and no one thought this was a bad idea or inappropriate?" Rue asked in his post.
The northern Cincinnati area Kings Mills team was playing its fourth week of games of the season at West Clermont. Kings Mills is a suburban area about 25 miles north of Downtown in Warren County.
"It was so blatant that it had to be fake," Rue said. "Sadly it wasn’t."
The sometimes-coach for his oldest son's team watched West Clermont's league representative step in at the start of the second quarter to talk to referees.
The game was called, Rue said. West Clermont parents kept the teams separated until Kings players left the gym.
Dawn Gould, a spokesperson for the Kings Local School District, said Monday night she cannot discuss whether any students will be disciplined due to privacy laws. She also said the team is not associated with the school district in any way and provided a statement:
"Today we became aware of inappropriate conduct from a team of students participating in a recreational basketball league that is not affiliated with the Kings Local School District. This team has been restricted from any further use of district facilities. Kings Local Schools strongly condemns any type of hateful and racist commentary. This behavior is in no way welcome or tolerated in our schools and community."
The Cincinnati Premier Youth Basketball League also provided a statement through spokesman Ben Goodyear:
"CPYBL was developed to provide the best possible basketball experience for the youth of our communities and their families and has always been committed to bringing a positive experience to all of our members. Based on the information that we received, the actions and conduct of the team in question did not comply with our stated mission and expected standards and that team has, therefore, been dismissed from our league."
Charrise Middleton, the coordinator for Kings Rec Basketball 7-12, told FOX19 NOW:
"When I learned of the uniform infractions last night the team involved was immediately removed from the league and will not be returning to play this season. Kings Rec Basketball for grades 7-12 does not in any way support or condone the uniform infractions that occurred. We strictly follow and support the rules set out by CPYBL and fully support their decision to remove the team from play as well."
Middleton also provided a statement on behalf of the team's coach:
"We sincerely apologize to anyone that was offended by the jerseys. We offered to cover them up or change, however the league saw fit to remove us and we have accepted that decision."
West Clermont players had noticed the jerseys before the game started.
"They were very unhappy when it was called, not because of the game ending but because another team's dumb decisions caused them to play just over a quarter of basketball," Rue said.
"They learned nothing basketball-wise, they had to learn more about racism and stupidity," Rue said.
Rue hopes it is a learning opportunity.
"So if any good is coming out of it, it’s sparking a conversation and not being covered up like it has been for the first three weeks of the season," he said.