On their website, Sports Illustrated published a story in November about sports becoming a battleground in America under President Donald J. Trump. The headline stated that anger, hatred and fear have become part of sports.
President Trump has been very vocal in criticizing National Football League players taking a knee during the national anthem to protest the treatment of minority citizens by some police officers across the nation. SI printed the story on its website on the one-year anniversary of Trump winning the 2016 presidential election.
Sports Illustrated writer Tim Layden began his story with the incident in Canton last February where some Canton fans taunted players from Hartford’s Classical Magnet School in a NCCC boys basketball tournament game with chants of “Trump, Trump, Trump” and waving a Trump/Pence campaign banner.
And it was no brief introduction. Layden examined the game, the incident and the makeup of the two schools and the communities they represent.
The day after the incident, Canton held an assembly with the students about the incident and sent a letter home to parents. School administrators apologized to Classical for the behavior of the students.
Canton High principal Andrew DiPippo said that the chants crossed a line. In a letter to parents, he wrote, “While students’ right to free speech and forming educated opinions about politics and current events is a cornerstone of our educational system, the exact point where political opinion converges with disrespect, discrimination or hate speech must be separated,” he said. “We have a reputation as a welcoming community and these students crossed this line with their comments and have damaged our reputation.”
The chant occurred during the first half as Classical players attempted some free throws. As soon as it happened, Eric Verner, the assistant principal at the high school walked down in front of the students to restore order. Verner stood there near the student section for the remainder of the evening.
“I really want it to be known that a majority of our school finds that (chant) unacceptable,” said Abbe Skinner, a senior on the girls basketball team said two days later when the Canton girls basketball team hosted Windham High in a playoff game. “There are still a handful of defiant students but I don’t think they represent our school as a whole. But they are part of our community so we need to take responsibility, move forward and take action.”
Canton Superintendent Kevin Case did not respond to email requests regarding additional actions that the school took with students regarding this incident.
“You feel for the kids because that’s not what they are all about. A few bad apples have changed the perception of what a great community this is,” Canton High girls basketball coach Brian Medeiros said two days later after when his team hosted Windham High in their state tournament opener here in Canton.
Oh, it was a great game on the court. After winning its first league championship since 1982, Canton was the top seed in the NCCC Tournament. But Classical built a 11-point lead and held off a furious Canton rally to upset the Warriors, 48-47 and earn a spot in the tournament’s championship game.