A southern California high school basketball team is under fire after students celebrated a win over a predominantly Hispanic school by throwing tortillas on the court.
On Saturday night, Coronado High School beat Orange Glen High School 60-57. Right after the win, tortillas were tossed toward the Orange Glen athletes, an action that Orange Glen assistant coach Lizardo Reynoso called “disturbing.”
“Our guys are still kind of bothered, especially a lot of our Hispanic guys, like, ‘Why would they do that?’” Reynoso told San Diego CBS affiliate KFMB. “They understand that there’s a lot of racism and hate going on today, but to top that off with a defeat after working so hard all year, it’s like a slap in the face.”
Ironically, the incident comes just a week after students at Coronado High School, which is located near San Diego, held a walk against racism, the station reported.
The incident reportedly began when the Orange Glen players were walking over to the Coronado players for the traditional post-game handshake.
“The head coach and the assistant coach came over to our bench and kind of said some words that were inappropriate and told us that we should take our kids and ‘get the F out’ because we were a bunch of losers,” Reynoso told NBC San Diego.
Shortly after, some of the Coronado players were seen hurling tortillas toward the Orange Glen team.
“It’s racist and it was planned,” Andres Rivera, the father of an Orange Glen player, told the station.
Coronado Police told NBC San Diego that the male adult who brought the tortillas has been identified but the incident remains under investigation.
HuffPost reached out to the Coronado Unified School District and the San Diego chapter of the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF), the state’s governing body for high school sports, for comment, but calls were not immediately returned.
The school’s superintendent, Karl Mueller, did release a statement saying, in part, that “swift action will be taken to address all those involved, and they will be held accountable. it is our hope to create opportunities to dialogue with the orange glen community in an attempt to repair.”
The Coronado school board also sent a letter of apology to the Escondido Union High School District, which includes Orange Glen High School, acknowledging the tortilla tossing was “egregious, demeaning, and disrespectful,” and added, “We fully condemn the racism, classism and colorism which fueled the actions of the perpetrators,” according to the Escondido Times-Advocate.
The San Diego chapter of the CIF released a statement on Sunday saying it is reviewing the incident and that the organization “prohibits discrimination or any acts that are disrespectful or demeaning toward a member school, student-athlete, or school community.”
San Diego mayor Todd Gloria (D) also condemned the incident, telling Fox 5 San Diego that it proved that “we have a lot of work to do as a community.”
He added: “I just hope the folks there at the school district take this as a teachable moment and work with these young people,” Gloria told FOX 5. “Help them understand this is not acceptable and quite honestly is not going to set them up well for success.”
None of the statements suggest that Coronado might be forced to forfeit the match.
Still, Orange Glen basketball player Christian Martinez said the actions from the Coronado side left a bad taste in his mouth.
“For it being my last game, I think it was pretty bad,” Martinez told NBC San Diego. “You don’t want to go down with an ‘L’ but also the extra stuff like the tortillas and all the smack talking with the coaches. That was really disrespectful.”
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