Your Kid’s Not Going Pro

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Slurred speech

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Just in case you thought the election of Barack Obama brought us into a post-racial society:


From Phillipsburg, Pa., comes an oldie but a baddie, the allegation of racial slurs at a youth sports game. This one, basketball. From

A Phillipsburg youth basketball coach said players and fans from an opposing team yelled racial slurs at his players during a Community Basketball League game Friday night in Palmer Township.

Todd Opitz coaches the Phillipsburg Police Athletic League Enforcers, a 17-and-under team in the league. He has 10 players on the team, three of whom are black. Opitz said he is white.

Let me interrupt for a moment to point out the familiar pattern in youth sports controversy stories. Somehow, well after the fact, word gets to a reporter or someone in the outside world about, say, an extreme girls basketball beatdown. No reporters were there to witness it, mainly because these are the sort of events no one outside immediate family and a few friends. How can I tell in this story? “Opitz said he is white.” Either that, or the reporter never takes anything at face value. (/rim shot)


Or, maybe the coach was a certain Mr. White.

Sorry, I digress. Let’s continue:

Friday’s game at the Chrin Community Center was the first between the Enforcers and the Palmer Wildcats this season. About 100 fans were in the stands, Opitz said.

Opitz said when his team started winning near the end of the first half, opposing players and fans started using threats with racial slurs.

Phillipsburg player Monsio Jlaka, 16, said it started off as friendly trash talking.

“Then it just started getting out of hand. They just kept talking a lot, using the n-word,” Jlaka said. “I told them to stop saying it because it was getting me really mad.”

Opitz said he told the referee about the slurs, but the official “said he couldn’t do anything about it.”

The teams returned for the second half of the game and after a few minutes, “it just started in again,” Opitz said.

Jlaka said he had to be taken out of the game because he was getting so angry. The Community Basketball League has a no-tolerance policy when it comes to fighting at games.

“I did not hear anything and no one brought anything to my attention — players, coaches or referees,” said Scott Sanguinito, the Wildcats assistant coach.

Perhaps Opitz, who says he is white, and his player are mishearing the opposing team’s play-calling signals: “Chigger.” “Digger.” “Bigger.” “Arnold Schwarzenegger.” Or the Wildcats coach needs a cochlear implant. Or, more than likely, someone is fibbin’.

Opitz, who says he is white, and his player had more to say:

The taunting continued into the parking lot and Phillipsburg parents and fans worked to keep their players under control, Opitz said.

“It was just chaos, basically,” Jlaka said.

Opitz, who has coached the Phillipsburg team for three years, and Jlaka both said they have never seen anything like what happened Friday.

“It was disgusting,” Opitz said. “It just ticks me off that this had to happen at a kids’ basketball game. No kid should have to tolerate hearing those things — period. It was uncalled for.”

Even discounting that this league has had a couple of parent rumbles in the last few years, according to the story, he’s right: no kid should have to tolerate hearing those things — period.

If all of this is true — and it’s not stretching the bounds of reason to think that it is, especially because it’s an area of Pennsylvania that Obama sent Joe Biden to often to assure the locals that their possible new president would not be a Scary Negro — it makes me wonder: what exactly possesses people to do this? Especially at a youth sports event?

“Hey, ma!”


“Billy’s got a game tonight. And there’s gonna be darkie kids playin’!”

“Thank the Lord! Now I can get all my pent-up darkie-yellin’ outta my system!”

None of the league officials were available to the reporter for the above story. Hopefully, they’ll come out of their hole and check all this out, and make clear that if a team and its fans are going to engage in this kind of behavior, it will give referees the power to boot them out, and if it doesn’t stop, give the league itself the power to boot a team out of the league. It’s crazy the league has a no-tolerance policy toward fighting, yet racial slurs are apparently a-OK.


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