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This year's election is affecting our children. Racism on a high school soccer field.

Updated on September 13, 2016

This year's election is affecting our children. Racism on a high school soccer field.



I write this as both a loving parent and a concerned citizen. My oldest son is a senior at Hamilton High School located in southwestern Ohio. I am just a construction worker, so if my grammar isn't 100% correct, you'll have to excuse me.
We live in a county that voted mostly Republican and is home to the former Congressman John Boehner.
The city of Hamilton has a large Hispanic community filled with undocumented illegal Mexicans, as well as Mexican American citizens. Not that most people think there is a difference. I find most of the time people think they are all here illegally.
This has been a way of life for the city of Hamilton over the past two decades. I would say at first it was alarming for most of the white residents, but the longer families lived around each other and our children grew up together, some of the animosity and fear has changed for some residents. But of course not for all.
My son plays for the Hamilton High Boys Soccer team which is made up of mostly Hispanic boys. Most of the boys I have known since they were four years old. Most of the team has played on the same team or played against each other, at different times, over the past thirteen years.
On more than one occasion, I've had the entire soccer team crammed into my sons bedroom playing on his ps4. There is no color or race when it comes to their friendship, only acceptance, camaraderie, and respect.
Hamilton High School is part of a large sports conference in southwestern Ohio, but unlike the other schools, we are poor and largely made up of a diverse and colorful student body.
We can't compete with the other high schools when it comes to money, community and parental support, eligible kids, and resources. It's just a normal way of life in sports for our kids.
An acceptance of mediocrity that we struggle with every season. We are lucky to win half of our games every season, but the kids trudge forward anyway because they love the game of soccer and playing together.
It doesn't matter that every game, every opposing team, every set of referees, go above and beyond to belittle and cheat them out of a fair game.
I will explain why I believe this to be the truth as I write about this past Thursday night's game.
We travelled to the city of Springboro Ohio to face off against Springboro High School. A small town made up of mostly Caucasian residents. By mostly, I mean 92%.
The game starts like every other game. My wife and I pay to get in, we watch our boys warm up, and then it's time for the player introductions. We all watch and begin to laugh as the announcer for Springboro butchers the pronunciation of our children's last names. To be fair almost every away game, the announcer has a hard time pronouncing our boys names and we find it more amusing than insulting.
We start off every game hoping for a fair and unbiased game, but within minutes we know this won't be the case. We have had trouble with Springboro before and we have trouble with the referees at every game we play anymore.
We were doing fine in the first half, but it doesn't take long for the ugliness to rear its head and show itself on the field. During a typical game, we see at least two dozen or more bad calls by almost always, all white referees. I have never seen a Hispanic referee once in the past 4 years of watching games. It is obvious from the numerous bad calls against us and the non calls for the other team that our boys are playing against the referees, as well as the Springboro Boys Soccer team. Witnesses as well as stats can prove this.
By halftime our boys are complaining because Springboro soccer players are calling them racist names like “Beaner” and “Wetback.” while playing on the field. Telling them to go back to Mexico. It's even worse when the student body chants the same to our players from their stands.
I was ejected before the end of the game and personally witnessed the Springboro student body chanting, “Build a wall.” as I passed them.
I was escorted out by two Springboro staff members who heard it as well. I turned to them both and said,” I get kicked out, but that racism is allowed.” They both continued to escort me out, but neither said a word to me.
Needless to say we lost the game, but the real crime was watching the prejudice tear down our boys strength and composure. They put up with a constant barrage of racist insults and pure hatred for over two hours.
I know that our country is divided politically. Half of us on one side while the other half is on the other side, but I think we can all agree that this shouldn't be allowed anywhere on a high school field. It is an attack on everything moral and a travesty against good sportsmanship.
Our soccer team has put up with this type of behavior for years, but I can no longer stand by and watch our boys continue to be abused and ignored by a system of hatred and ignorance.
So I write this in hopes that it will be seen and distributed everywhere. l hope the more attention it receives it might give us a chance to stop this hate and just be allowed to play a fair game of soccer.
I hope for the Hamilton City school board to investigate immediately. I called the board on Friday and complained, but they never called me back. Another parent called and complained to the principal, Mr. Wilhelm. Mr. Wilhelm told the parent that he was told by our Athletic Director that there wasn't any incidents.
My wife emailed the Springboro Athletic Director and he did email her back. He stated that he asked a couple of people, but they didn't hear anything. So to him nothing happened as well.
You know if you asked the Nazis if they were a hate group in 1938, they would have denied it. The whole idea of racism is that through the perpetrator's own ignorance, they don't know, nor do they believe they are a racist. They either lie and deny, or justify their actions.
So, I expect nothing less from him or his school. We had the same problems with the Springboro Boys Soccer team last year and our Athletic Director knew about it.
So, I don't know why we played them again this year or did not simply just walk off the field on Thursday night.
I was actually ejected from the game by our own Athletic Director for telling him he needed to stick up for our kids. Which he has never done until later that night, after he had me ejected from the game.
Im guessing that his conscious and the fact that all of our parents agreed with me, demanded he walk over to the opposing coach and then to the Springboro student stands to ask them to stop the racist remarks.
But he apparently told Mr. Wilhelm there wasn't any incident. If there wasn't an incident then why go the coach and the Springboro student stands. It is simply a cover up.
As to whether our school board had knowledge of this incident and the others from previous games, I couldn't tell you. If they did then I find them all equally guilty and complicit in sending our boys to face a horrible and stressful situation like that.
I call on OHSAA, the Ohio High School Athletic Association to investigate, reprimand, and discipline all parties involved. To make sure that all of our future games are filmed at their expense. If they find nothing wrong, I will still be content in knowing that all of our future games will be fair and impartial. Maybe we can have a chance this season.
I ask that everyone, everywhere stand with us to stop the hate that is continuously spewed and accepted by half of our population. At the end of the day these are kids who need to be nurtured and taught to be responsible young men. That can't happen with the abuse they receive constantly from everyone around them at these games.
I wanted to stand up for the kids years ago, but I was asked not to because of the fears that our friends and their children have concerning immigration issues, but with the current political climate we may never have another opportunity to change people and their views when it comes to this hotly contested issue.
Now you can say that I'm probably just a sore loser and that I'm just defending my kid. You might be right except for one little detail that I purposely left out. I am white, my wife is white, and my son is white and when you hurt those kids, you hurt us as well.
I call on everyone everywhere to support our kids at home and away games. I call on everyone who cares to make a change to help us stop the hate. We will not be just pushed aside by Hamilton or Springboro High Schools. A few of us parents will fight this even as we stand alone with no support from our very own school. We will show our kids that even when everyone is against you we will still fight for what is right.

Thank you,
Shawn Denholm

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    • Katja Crosby profile image

      Katja Crosby 

      14 months ago

      This is my son's 3rd year playing Varsity Soccer for Cimarron-Memorial High School Las Vegas, NV. Unfortunately, it is also the 3rd year I have witnessed Palo Verde High School Las Vegas, NV students and parents continuously scream out racial slurs at our Latino players and African-American players. This year is starting even worse cause now the refs are also insulting our Latino players with racial slurs. I'm looking for any way to make a positive change and end this before it goes on any further. Any ideas you have or any light you can spread on this situation I would greatly appreciate.

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