Controversial Football Shirts Recalled

Jessica Rosiak and Sarah Naughten

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School administrators asked that t-shirts designed by the varsity football team and distributed to students before its game against Las Lomas on October 25 be returned.

Although the shirt design was approved by coaches and the shirts were ordered by a parent volunteer, they were later deemed to be potentially offensive by administrators.

The shirts are black, with a knight’s head depicted on the front. Lettering on the shirts stated, “Send the Knights Back to the Dark Ages.” Below this script was screened “Campolindo vs. Las Lomas Charter” in blue and red. 

According to football team members, Leadership requested a shirt design for the showdown between the league’s top teams, just as it does for other big games. Ideas were presented at a series of lunchtime meetings.

Senior varsity football player Rexford Curtiss said, “The shirt itself had no harmful intentions.” 

Yet there was enough concern among school staff to prompt a recall of the garments. Associate Principal Laura Lee confirmed that students who originally purchased the shirts were provided with refunds.  According to Lee, nearly all of the shirts that had been distributed were returned.

While some players said that exception to the shirt design was taken due to the use of the word “charter” in reference to transfer students who now play for Las Lomas, counselor Patrick Turner and English teacher Jamie Donohoe expressed concern for the more troubling racial undertones suggested by the reference to the Dark Ages.

2 of the Knights’ top players are African American, 1 of whom is a recent transfer to Las Lomas after previously playing for De La Salle High School.

Curtiss said, “Dark Ages were when knights were around so it was kind of a pun on that, but if you look into it further, then obviously you can draw some connections between things and people didn’t like that.”

Senior Lara Bloom, who returned the shirt she had purchased, said, “I think that the administration was trying to protect themselves definitely from people being angry, and especially in this time in our society it is important that big organizations, essentially public schools, are really careful with what they put out into the world.”  

Bloom noted that, “it doesn’t matter if those people didn’t find a problem with it. It matters if everyone else finds a problem with it.”  

“I understand that folks were thinking, ‘We are just targeting Las Lomas,’ but that view wasn’t careful enough, and what was printed on that shirt actually targets and puts the spotlight on some black kids in a way that is really, really bad,” said Donohoe. “I’m glad the administration stepped in.”

Turner said he “was shocked immediately” when he 1st learned of the shirt design.  “I feel that if you break down the meaning of the shirts in separate contexts, it was definitely malicious intent in terms of race,” he said.

“It has revealed that we have a lot of work to do as teachers and administrators and students as a community,” said Donohoe.

Turner added that it’s time for the students to confront the issue of race and that they need to access their “moral compass” and speak out when they perceive injustice. 

“There isn’t a conversation about race in every subject, and every class situation, in every sport, and there’s no inclusivity,” said Turner. The counselor believes that if a student notices something is wrong, they should feel compelled to speak out against it.

Turner believes that athletes should “just go out and play.”  He considers the incident to be an unfortunately blemish for a school with tremendous spirit.

Head coach Kevin Macy declined to be interviewed by La Puma regarding the shirts.

Senior varsity team member Mason Mastrov felt that the controversy “[distracted] away from the fact that we won a very big game and I didn’t think it should do that.” 

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