Summit District Launches Probe; Player: 'There's A Few Tears Shed In The Locker Room'

SUMMIT, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Players from a New Jersey high school football team with a largely African-American makeup said members of another team taunted them racially before a game this past weekend.

As CBS 2’s Christine Sloan reported, the players said the harassment involved the use of bananas by the opposing Summit High School team as a racially offensive joke.

“It was in the door and you could see through the door, because it didn’t have — no doorknobs – so you could see right through the hole,” said North Plainfield High School football player Anthony Lafond. “And they put the banana right through there.”

The North Plainfield team was set to face off against the Summit team, at Summit High School, at the time.

“Right away, there was a banana in the door,” said North Plainfield football player J.T. Valley. “And we told our coach, we’re like, ‘Coach, there’s a banana in there.’ So we took the banana, and then all of a sudden, they put another one. And we took the banana out, and there was another one in there. And they kept on putting them in there.”

The North Plainfield players said they were so traumatized that their coach had to console them.

“There’s a few tears shed in the locker room,” Valley said.

“Before the game, he gave us, like, a very inspirational and emotional pre-game speech – about how they didn’t show courage or character,” added Lafond.

The Summit High School superintendent said the district has launched an investigation into what it calls “an alleged incident on Saturday.”

Parents and students in the upscale community said what they are hearing is not representative of the school.

“I think that is horrible — I mean, I am stunned, honestly,” said Summit parent Dale Reyer.

“It doesn’t sound like something my school would do — throwing bananas at kids,” said Summit High School junior Samantha Forsyth. “I didn’t even hear this story.”

In North Plainfield, angry parents with kids on the team took to Facebook.

“They were giving a message, unfortunately, to the African-American kids on the team,” said North Plainfield parent Anne Kearney. “Summit really needs to be disciplined for this kind of stuff. Nowadays, what is it 2014? this should not be happening.”

Kearney said similar incidents have “been going on, periodically, on and off,” and “this was the last straw.”

North Plainfield players said the incident has brought them together.

“There’s no race,” Lafond said. “We’re just one color — we’re maroon.”

The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association usually investigates alleged incidents such as this one. CBS 2 reached out, but was told the media representative for the agency was not in the office.

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