Xenophobic Chant at Orcutt Basketball Game
Video by Joe Bailey / Santa Maria Times
By edhat staff
Righetti High School students started a xenophobic chant during a high school basketball game against St. Joseph on Tuesday.
"Where's your passport?" was chanted over and over again from students and supporters of Righetti High School. A writer for Santa Maria Times caught the incident on camera towards the end of the game. The two high schools have a long-standing rivalry.
The video also shows administrators from both sides getting into a heated discussion, seemingly about the chant and conduct of their students and fans. The woman in green has been identified as Erinn Dougherty, Principal of St. Joseph, who appears to become emotional at the end of the video.
It has since sparked discussions and accusations of racism and xenophobia. St. Joseph High School has one player from France and three players from Puerto Rico, a United States territory where residents do not need passports.
St. Joseph has been criticized for its recruitment of players. Their basketball coach and Athletic Director, Tom Mott, previously resigned from Mission Prep in San Luis Obispo in 2006 following an investigation into his recruiting of players. Righetti High School and its supporters have pointed to the private school's recruiting as unfair.
A tweet from February 7 posted by Righetti High School points to the contention as they commend their girl's basketball team for winning without overseas recruiting. "That’s 4 Championships in the last 5 years... and they don’t have to recruit overseas !!!" the tweet reads.
That’s 4 Championships in the last 5 years... and they don’t have to recruit overseas !!! pic.twitter.com/yB7iKKIbEW
— Righetti Football & Sports (@RighettiFB) February 8, 2020
After backlash online, Righetti students came forward to state students and supporters from St. Joseph were also chanting racist remarks, reports the Santa Maria Times.
"We are aware of the unacceptable comments exchanged from both sides of the basketball court during the heated rivalry between St. Joseph and Righetti High School Tuesday night. The incident is being addressed by SMJUHSD and RHS school officials. We have no further comment at this time, said Kenny Klein, Santa Maria Joint Union High School District Public Information Officer, in a public statement.
"We are disappointed about the way the boys basketball game against Righetti High School ended on Tuesday night. We do not tolerate any type of inappropriate statements made at any student especially if they could be interpreted as disrespectful. We hope that this can be a lesson in sportsmanship and mutual respect for students from both schools," according to a statement from St. Joseph High School.
The video garnered over a thousand comments on social media with some calling the school racist, others defending the chant, and some stating both sides were at fault.