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March 9th, 2012
San Antonio Needs a Geography Lesson...

Chants of "USA!" -- directed last week at a predominantly Latino basketball team -- are still reverberating in San Antonio, Texas, with school district officials filing an official complaint about the incident with league officials. 

Fans of Alamo Heights, a wealthy San Antonio school district, chanted "USA!" during the regional basketball championship trophy presentation in the school's Littleton Gym on Saturday, according to video posted by KENS5. The predominantly white Alamo Heights team had defeated San Antonio's Thomas A. Edison High School, a mostly Latino team, by 50-39 Friday night, earning its first spot in the state tournament since 1991, the station reported.

The loss ended a breakthrough season for Edison, which had advanced to the regional tournament for the first time in 50 years.

Video of the taunting has sparked heated debate in San Antonio, a predominantly Latino city about 150 miles north of the Mexico border, with Edison students who attended Saturday's game saying they were shocked by the chanting.

"It just rubbed us the wrong way," Forest Lebaron, an Edison senior, told KSAT-TV.

Edison officials were also upset.

"Our kids deserve better than hearing what they did after the game from those Alamo Heights students, even if it was just for a few seconds," Gil Garza, athletic director for Edison's San Antonio Independent School District, told KENS5. "These students also rained on their own team's celebration."

Alamo Heights coach Andrew Brewer acted quickly to stop the chanting, Garza said, but that wasn't enough for Edison officials. They filed an official complaint about the incident with the University Interscholastic League, which oversees Texas public high school extracurricular activities.

"Our kids try real hard and work extra hard to get to the regional tournament, and then we have to worry about them being subjected to this kind of insensitivity," Garza told KENS5. "To be attacked about your ethnicity and being made to feel that you don't belong in this country is terrible. Why can't people just applaud our kids? It just gets old and I'm sick of it. Once again, we're on pins and needles wondering what's going to happen."

The Alamo Heights School District has 10 days to respond to the complaint. The district's superintendent has already apologized for the chanting.

"Obviously, we were disappointed that this happened," Supt. Kevin Brown told KENS5. "That's not who we are as a community and that's not who we are as a school. It's not something that's acceptable for us. Our kids are very respectable. We have to remember that they're teenagers, and kids make mistakes."

"We have tried to use this as a teachable moment for them," he said. "We have talked to our students. We've taken responsibility for it."

Fans seen chanting by Alamo Heights officials have been banned from the team's semifinal game Thursday in Austin against Dallas' Kimball High.

“We think that you have to earn a right to be there and that’s not a reflection of our school district,” Brown told KSAT-TV.

A similar controversy erupted in San Antonio last year, according to the San Antonio Express-News, when a group of student basketball fans from nearby Cedar Park chanted “USA!” during a boys basketball playoff game against their mostly white team and San Antonio's majority Latino Sidney Lanier High School team.

Lanier coaches, players and fans interpreted the chant as ethnic taunting; the district filed a complaint; and Cedar Park officials had to apologize.

Videos of the latest chanting by Alamo Heights fans posted online have renewed debate about the chanting among San Antonio students and basketball fans.

Some posting on the KSAT-TV Facebook page called the Alamo Heights chants patriotic.

"I am totally with the USA Cheers," wrote John Nicks. "They should not be forced to or apologize at all. Its Hispanic team vs Caucasian Team, whats wrong with rooting and cheering for the USA/Caucasians to win?"

Others considered the cheering offensive and racist.

"What was the point of chanting it at a local game? If it was worldwide like the Olympics and the team was from a different country, I would see why they were chanting "USA," but no both teams are from San Antonio therefore no reason for the chant," wrote Karla Sanchez, an Alamo student. "The way they chanted it as a cheer against a school of mainly minorities to bring them down is what's wrong."

 


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