In response to a racist social media post Cathedral Catholic High School students aimed at Lincoln High School's football team last season, Lincoln Head Coach David Dunn said his team won't play their upcoming matchup against Cathedral.
The decision stems from a controversial post that surfaced following last season's matchup in April (Football season was moved to the spring due to the pandemic). It showed a photo of a t-shirt with a "Catholics vs. Convicts" graphic on it and the caption "We run the city."
The phrase on the shirt dates back to a late 1980s college football matchup between Notre Dame and the University of Miami detailed in an ESPN "30 for 30" episode by the same name. Players, coaches and community members from Miami and Lincoln High had similar reactions to being labeled as convicts.
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"Cathedral Catholic demonstrated their inhumane attitudes against us, by referring to us as convicts and thugs. Their actions not only criminalized and hurt our student-athletes, but they also create a false, undignified, undeserved perception of them and our close-knit community," Coach Dunn wrote in part in a letter sent Tuesday.
Below Dunn's signature on the letter were those of co-principals Stephanie Brown and Melissa Agudelo, Vice President of Athletics Launa Romanowsky and Athletic Director David Fai.
In May, the San Diego City Conference (SDCC) handed down the following sanctions to Cathedral's athletics program following an investigation of the post:
- CCHS will be placed on probation through the 2022-23 athletic season. If another racially charged incident is discovered during that time, related sports programs could be kicked out of the SDCC.
- CCHS's head varsity football coach will be suspended for the first two league contests of the 2021-22 SDCC football season.
- Self-imposed suspensions were invoked by the students directly involved with the photo of the shirt, including students who wore it, took photos of it or shared photos online.
- CCHS and Lincoln student-athletes, coaching staffs, communities and others outside of their communities will meet and discuss the impacts of the incident.
- CCHS will implement a restorative education program for its entire athletic program with regards to restorative justice and diversity. CCHS must submit reports to the SDCC about the program every semester.
"We acknowledge that members of the Cathedral Catholic community have made the effort to connect with our coaches and faculty," Dunn wrote in his letter. "However, more deliberate intentional efforts to combat racism are warranted. Combatting racism and anti-blackness takes daily, intensive inner work and systems change."
In April, Cathedral Catholic Principal Kevin Calkins apologized, saying their players and students showed, "Poor character and bad sportsmanship by posting and reposting two different social media posts with blatant racist overtones aimed at the Lincoln High School community."
A letter from Brown, Agudelo and Romanowsky sent Tuesday also acknowledged Cathedral's efforts to connect with the Lincoln community, but said, in part, "It is a privilege to learn about racism instead of experiencing it your whole life. Anti-racism and systemic change are not trainings to check off or certificates to earn. Anti-racism work takes daily, intensive inner work and systems change. Completing an anti-bias/anti-racist training program is a step in the right direction, but does not in itself heal the anger and pain felt in our community."
On Wednesday, Joe Heinz, the commissioner of the CIF San Diego Section, released the following statement regarding this week's developments:
As an institution founded on the basis of education-based athletics and the principles of pursuing victory with honor, the CIFSDS stands with our education and athletic leaders in supporting learning and athletic environments that are free from racism and discrimination in all forms. We continue to encourage the schools’ administrations to work together to build the trust needed to promote the healing desired by everyone. Finally, we believe that high school athletics can bring diverse communities together, to discover our similarities and celebrate our differences. Any time a decision is made to not participate in a previously scheduled athletic contest, our student athletes miss out on an opportunity to come together, represent their community and benefit from the lifelong lessons learned from participation in interscholastic athletics.