Parents banned from athletic events after fight prematurely ends Mississippi high school basketball game. Accusations of racism made in incident.

Published 9:49 am Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Parents of a Bogue Chitto Bobcats basketball player have been banned from attending athletic events in the Lincoln County School District after they and others were involved in an altercation during a basketball game Friday night.

On Friday, the Bogue Chitto Bobcats were wrapping up a tournament game against the Loyd Star Hornets on the Hornets’ home court when a Bobcat player and a referee allegedly bumped into one another. That apparently caused tensions to escalate resulting in what became eventual chaos causing officials to call the game with 2:35 remaining in the final period, reported a Brookhaven radio station on its Facebook page.

“A double technical was being assessed against both teams when someone in the Bogue Chitto crowd threw something and pegged the official in the face,” the radio station reported. “He stopped the game while school officials and a Lincoln County Sheriff’s Deputy ejected the fan.”

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The commentator said an explanation was being given by the official “when another fan on the other side of the gym got irate and the whole ejection process started over. Things got rowdy and the officials blew the game dead and got out of town.”

Officials reportedly kept fan bases separate when leaving the tournament to avoid further confrontation.

NAACP Lincoln County President the Rev. Dr. Rico Cain said reports from parents and fans came to him over the weekend that an official refereeing the game used the N-word when speaking to the player after the physical contact occurred, and that white fans from Loyd Star took up the racial epithet as a chant. That accusation has not been verified.

Lincoln County School District Superintendent Dr. David Martin said he was told that some students were using that word, but had not been told that an adult had used the language.

“We are investigating all reports and will handle as proof is provided. We do treat all of that as inappropriate language with appropriate disciplinary action,” Martin said.

McNair Smith is the assigning secretary for officials calling games in Southwest Mississippi. Smith said Tuesday no one had made any statement to him claiming that an official used inappropriate language at the game.

“That is not what was reported,” Smith said. “I had reports from all three officials about what occurred, and the language was used by players, not officials.”

Bogue Chitto School Principal Scott Merrell wrote a letter to the parents of one Bogue Chitto basketball player who was allegedly involved in the incident on Friday night and told them they were banned from attending any other Lincoln County athletic events in the future, citing their actions on Friday along with previous incident involving them.

Martin said the matter is still being looked into, but appears to be contained to adults at the game and players on the court. Any discipline for players would be handled by the coaches, he said.

Cain said the NAACP would be looking further into allegations.

“I hope someday that all this racism will be in our past,” Cain said, “and not where we have to live today.”

On Saturday morning, Martin issued the following statement, also via social media:

“The events from the game Friday night by a few individuals were highly disappointing. Sports and activities are meant to teach our students about teamwork, discipline, hard work, and perseverance. They also teach them how to handle adversity, frustration, and to deal with situations, and circumstances that are beyond their control and aren’t always ‘fair’ in a mature way.

“Unfortunately, some of the fans at the game appear to be struggling with how to handle issues they disagree with. This kind of behavior will not be allowed and will be addressed. Those who cannot attend a game and act in a civilized manner will be asked to leave immediately and prohibited from attending further school events. Students involved will be subject to discipline policy as well as banned from school activities. Let’s remember what we are really trying to accomplish with sports.

“As a school, parents, and community we need to be a model for our students and youth. There have been many reports of behavior that has been questionable; this should not be an issue from our fans. The refs, coaches, and players for school sports are all amateurs that are there for the love of the kids and the game. Fans should be there to support our kids and our team, not tear down and degrade the other team, refs, or your own coaches and players because you dislike or disagree with something.

“This past year and half and life in general is filled with enough negative, our kids need and deserve activities to help them grow into responsible adults. Let’s show them how to be competitive, handle adversity, deal with disappointment, and still maintain maturity and good character. We want our kids to grow into responsible adults that make us proud; we should serve as an example for them.”