This NBC 5 'Community Conversations: Call for Change' centers on an incident during a middle school football game that left a young boy fighting back tears and his mother demanding changes.
It was Monday night football in Frisco.
Eager eighth-graders were back on the field when a word, hitting harder than any tackle, was leveled against a 14-year-old boy.
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“I was going back to the huddle after one play and I hear somebody say my name and they called me the n-word. And I said, 'what did you say?' And he said it again and I said 'ok' and I walked off,” said the boy, whose name we are not using.
He said the racial slur was used by two players on the opposing team: one white, one Black.
Frisco ISD tells NBC 5: ‘Frisco ISD moved quickly today to investigate this situation after it was brought to our attention by a parent. After speaking with students, coaches and the referees who officiated last night's game, it was determined that two players did use a racial slur.’
The district went on to say the students were ‘assigned consequences in alignment with district and school policy,’ but could not specify what punishments were given because of federal privacy laws.
“I just felt disrespected and it wasn’t right,” said the victim. “There was no point in him saying that [word.]"
The young player said the other players also used vulgar language during the game.
Alfreda Webb wanted to share her son’s story and speak out for him and players, past and present, who’ve confronted the same hateful words with little to no punishment.
“To me, it feels like a culture. It feels like this is something that has been allowed,” said Webb. “And I feel like if we don’t spotlight it and highlight it, it’s going to continue to go on.”
Asked to respond to any potential criticism from others who say the n-word is used by youth of all colors today, among friends and teammates and to get over it, Webb said “This is something we have gotten over for too long and that is one of the reasons this world is in the state that it is right now. Because people have not said anything about it.”
NBC 5 invited Seguin High School football coach Joe Gordon to join this Community Conversation to weigh in on the derogatory languages that at times, seeps into the sport.
“When we talk about this word, we’re talking about something that has been drilled into these kids’ subconscious,” said Gordon. “It’s on the radio, it’s on the television. It’s being used so they’re hearing it into their subconscious.”
The key, he said, is to ‘re-channel’ their thinking.
“And that’s our job as coaches and leadership,” he said.
“Number one, you have to be clear, concise and consistent,” said Gordon. “It’s up to us to help them understand that hey, that may be there. It may be in that environment but it’s not ok.”
Webb acknowledges much of this learned cultured starts at home.
“Hatred, racism is taught,” she said. “We have to be able to teach our kids and parents, this falls 100% on the parents in teaching them.”
And perhaps the following creed “Coach G” instills in his players could help shape a better, more inclusive world on and off the field.
“When we say family within our football culture, F.A.M.I.L.Y. stands for ‘Forget About Me, I Love You’ more,” he said. “With that mindset, we eliminate any type of derogatory language that would insinuate something other than: I love you.”
Frisco ISD says neither of the teams’ coaches were told about the racial slur during the game.
Webb’s son said another player told a referee during the game.
However, the district said it has not been able to confirm this adding, ‘it is unclear at this time how the community breakdown occurred.’
The district also points to its ongoing efforts to promote equity, diversity and inclusion across its campuses, including the creation of the anonymous ‘STOPit app’ that helps identify situations that need to be addressed.