SPANISH FORT, Ala. — A nationally televised high school football game has captured some unexpected attention, not for what happened on the field, but for a homophobic banner held aloft by a group of students in the stands.
During the game against Spanish Fort High School and its arch-rival Daphne High School, ESPN cameras captured students displaying a sign which read, “Purple? Man, that’s GAY.” The sign was a reference to Daphne High School colors, one of which is purple.
Another sign read, “Daphne, Isn’t that a girl’s name?”
Baldwin County Public Schools spokesman Terry Wilhite said Wednesday that officials are aware of the sign and the issue is being addressed.
“It’s a regrettable moment by a few students whose wrongdoing doesn’t in any way represent the outstanding Spanish Fort community, high school or its students,” Wilhite said. “It was a gimmick to get national attention, and they were successful at that. What they won’t be successful at is doing it again.”
On Wednesday, Yahoo! sports columnist Cameron Smith criticized the students’ behavior, and wrote that Spanish Fort High School now has “a new homophobic reputation to defend against.”
“That’s the world we live in today. It’s proof that one wrong decision can propagate international headlines these days. That in itself is a teaching moment,” said Wilhite, who insisted the banner was a regrettable decision on the part of a handful of kids, and not an indicator of a homophobic mentality among the entire student body.
Cyd Zeigler, founder of Outsports.com, an innovative website dedicated to covering the gay sports community, told WPMI-TV the students are “not trying to pay the other team a compliment, they’re trying to insult them,”
“And to use the word ‘gay’ as an insult, it’s demeaning and incredibly offensive,” Zeigler said.
“That’s the world we live in today. It’s proof that one wrong decision can propagate international headlines these days. That in itself is a teaching moment.”
Wilhite did not offered specifics on how the students who held the banner will be disciplined, and said that any decision regarding disciplinary action would be up to the school’s principal.