After racist taunting, fans banned from BFA-Fairfax boys basketball games

Fans have been banned from all boys’ basketball games at BFA-Fairfax High School for the time being after a confrontation with racist overtones at Thursday’s varsity game with Milton High School.

According to a report in the County Courier newspaper, fans and players faced off on the basketball court after Thursday’s game, with a Milton player accusing a Fairfax fan of directing racist remarks at him.

BFA Fairfax officials said they were investigating what happened.

“We cannot and will not at any time tolerate the use of racist language on our school property,” they said in a written statement from John T. Tague, the school principal; Elizabeth Noonan, the Headmistress; and Geri Witalec-Krupa, director of student activities at BFA-Fairfax.

They said the incident happened after last buzzer when BFA student fans flocked to the basketball court, but it wasn’t just students who were involved. “We are also aware of the negative interactions between adult fans and the Milton players as they prepared to leave the gym for their bus ride home,” the school officials wrote.

Once the investigation is complete, they will reconsider the decision to bar viewers from basketball games, the school officials wrote.

Vermont’s high school athletic community struggles to address racist behavior. Earlier this month, the Burlington High girls’ basketball team postponed a game against Champlain Valley Union High School after one of their players used a racial slur in a TikTok video. That same week, Enosburg Falls High School canceled the varsity and junior varsity girls’ basketball games against Middlebury because of racially inappropriate comments made by viewers of Enosburg students toward Middlebury players.

Similar issues were reported during the high school athletic season last fall.

Jay Nichols, executive director of the Vermont Principals’ Association, which regulates high school sports, said last week he doesn’t think racially motivated behavior is increasing overall. Rather, people are increasingly willing to report these incidents.

Anyone can report an incident at a sporting event via the new Concern Reporting form on the federation’s website. The form was introduced last year after several episodes of racist and hateful language at school sports games across the state.

If you want to keep an eye on Vermont’s education news, sign up here to receive a weekly email with all of VTDigger’s coverage of higher education, early childhood programs and K-12 education policy.