A video was published on social media over the weekend showing several white women’s lacrosse players from Virginia Tech singing the racially charged lyrics of a rap song.
The 13-second video was shot on the team bus following a win and was originally posted to Snapchat and eventually made its way to Twitter. In it, several members of the team sing along to Lil Dicky’s “Freaky Friday.” The lyrics include the n-word.
“Following an away match on Saturday, March 24, a member of our squad posted a video to social media of the team signing along to a song that included derogatory lyrics,” head coach John Sung said in a statement. “Members of the VT Athletics administration and coaches have met with the full team. We are engaged in conversations within the campus community to share our sincere apology. We have confidence that the team will learn from this mistake and understand that these actions reflect poorly on our program and do not represent the values of our program or the principles of the university.”
Virginia Tech players may learn from the mistake, and may be truly sorry for the video getting out. But this is not the first time something like this has stained the sport of lacrosse, a game that continues to try to shed its rich, white, prep school, lax-bro identity.
ABC pulled ‘Black-ish’ episode over ‘creative differences’
“This sport of lacrosse needs to look like this country and to put it bluntly — it doesn’t,” Chazz Woodson, a black pro player said at a recent diversity and inclusion summit for the sport.
Lacrosse has been struggling with diversity issues for decades and the Virginia Tech video was not an isolated incident. It marked the fifth time since December lacrosse players have been involved in hateful incidents. In February, black and native players from IMG Academy in Florida complained they were taunted with racist insults in a game against Ponte Vedra (Fla.) High School.
In response, Albany freshman Tehoka Nanticoke, a Native player from Ontario and an IMG alum, wrote “There is no need for this,” on Twitter. “We all love this game. This is Medicine game meant for us all to come together and grow the game.”
Teacher suspended 10 days for using N-word, calling students dumb
In January, USA women’s team member Alex Aust’s posted the n-word on her Instagram account, which she apologized for and said it happened when she didn’t have her phone. Whoever posted the word, it was still hurtful.
“As black lacrosse player I’ve always looked up to you because you showed little girls of different backgrounds that they can play lacrosse and it’s not just a white sport,” Louisville’s Taylor Webster wrote to Aust, who is Asian, at the time. “Today I’ve changed my mind because you posted this on your Instagram Story. I am disgusted, offended, and saddened. You owe all black people and especially black lacrosse players an apology.”
In December, pro player Paul Rabil was attacked on social media for his support of women. In the past, Rabil has also been jabbed for backing gay and lesbian athletes. Also that month, a player with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes club team posted an image online with the caption referring to their mostly minority opponents as “convicts.”
Diversity in lacrosse has been an issue for years. Former Syracuse star Jovan Miller, who is black, boycotted the equipment manufacturer Warrior in 2012 over a racist ad campaign that featured the slogan “Ninja please,” which offended him and others. Last month, Miller wrote an open letter to the lacrosse community asking for an open dialogue on racial issues. His post was borne of frustration with the continued lack of diversity in a game invented by a minority: Native Americans.
Racial politics of MLB will be the downfall of America’s pastime
Kyle Harrison, another black lacrosse celebrity, has also been outspoken on diversity issues. Harrison’s father, Dr. Miles Harrison, played college lacrosse on the legendary “Ten Bears” teams at Morgan State in the 1970s.
Morgan was the first HBCU school with a varsity lacrosse team. The team, made up of black players shunned by more established schools, disbanded at the end of the decade. An HCBU school did not field a varsity team until Hampton added lacrosse two years ago.
In January, Kyle Harrison said he’s seen pictures of a mock lynchings sent to black coaches and players, and in response to two of the incidents listed above, he said “the insensitivity is appaling,” and “a serious discussion needs to take place in our sport about inclusion, diversity, and what is acceptable behavior because clearly there is a disconnect.”
One such discussion took place in January at the Inside Lacrosse Industry Summit’s talk on diversity and inclusion, which Harrison participated in with Chazz Woodson.
Responder accused of racial slur, spitting on boy at Hooters
“We have to coach these kids to be socially aware,” Harrison said that day. “I don’t think the kids are racist. But, they don’t realize that those comments are not funny … It’s important to understand that’s not acceptable.”
That tone-deaf behavior has been well documented. In October, the UMBC women’s lacrosse Twitter account liked a President Trump tweet, which sparked a spat between the social media editors and the school’s black student union. Trump was at the center of another controversy last spring when the Adelphi men’s lacrosse team came out for games to music that was cut with excerpts of a Trump “Make America Great Again” speech.
Taking it a step further, two of the most reviled political leaders in this country right now got their start in the circus surrounding the Duke lacrosse incident more than a decade ago when a black stripper falsely accused white members of the team of rape. The racial undertones of the case exploded and before it became a battle of right vs. wrong, it was very much a white vs. black issue.
Among those who spoke out in defense of the team before the facts finally cleared them of all charges were Duke students Stephen Miller and Richard Spencer. Miller wrote a series of columns for the school paper, The Chronicle, which earned him some national fame; Spencer was hired to write an article about the campus unrest for The American Conservative.
GOP pol refuses to leave race amid allegations he used N-word
Miller is now a Trump adviser and Spencer is the leader of the alt-right, a movement he coined a year after the Duke case.
Which brings us to Saturday. The Virginia Tech women’s team had just defeated Elon, 14-12, and improved to 9-3 on the season. Cue the music. And the camera phones.
“They had just won. They’re singing songs,” Sung told the Roanoke Times. “The first couple songs were Disney songs … They were celebrating and they were dancing and they were excited. They’re good kids that made a bad decision.”
The problem is, there has been a long line of similarly awful decisions that continue to stain the sport.
Black America dispelled racist remarks about LeBron over weekend
At best, those girls were oblivious to what they were doing. At worst, and closer to reality, it was just the latest example of lacrosse’s deep diversity problem rearing its ugly head.
Send a Letter to the Editor