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The Journal Gazette

Friday, September 08, 2017 1:00 am

Politics, sports not good mix in Warsaw

GREG JONES | The Journal Gazette

Today

Concordia at Bishop Luers, 7 p.m.

North Side at Wayne, 7 p.m.

Northrop at Carroll, 7 p.m.

South Side at Snider, 7 p.m.

Homestead at Bishop Dwenger, 7 p.m.

Bellmont at Norwell, 7 p.m.

Columbia City at Huntington North, 7 p.m.

East Noble at DeKalb, 7 p.m.

New Haven at Leo, 7 p.m.

Adams Central at Jay County, 7 p.m.

Bluffton at Woodlan, 7 p.m.

Heritage at South Adams, 7 p.m.

Southern Wells at Park Tudor, 7:30 p.m.

Angola at West Noble, 7 p.m.

Covenant Christian at Fremont, 7:30 p.m.

Eastside at Churubusco, 7 p.m.

Garrett at Lakeland, 7 p.m.

Prairie Heights at Central Noble, 7 p.m.

Concord at Wawasee, 7 p.m.

Warsaw at Elkhart Memorial, 7 p.m.

Whitko at Rochester, 7 p.m.

High school football and politics don't mix. 

I am not referring to the politics of determining the starting quarterback. Instead, I am talking about the political talk that engulfs this country every minute of every day, particularly every four years (if you get my drift). 

But politics have overlapped with football in one northeast Indiana community and the ensuing ugliness was predictable.

Warsaw's military night Sept. 1 was meant to celebrate, at a football game, this nation's troops and be a tribute to the freedoms they provide.

However, the administration had flashbacks to last year when things got out of hand on what should have been a special night, the emphasis turning to the presidential candidates and their rhetoric. The ugliness that politics can cause came out so much that parents and other community members became upset, and this year's military celebration was to be toned down.

“WCHS has a documented dress code that does not prohibit symbols or colors of the American flag,” Warsaw Community Schools superintendent David Hoffert wrote in a statement this week. “Although the theme and colors for the night did not match red, white and blue, these are not prohibited to wear. WCHS prides itself in long patriotic history and pride in our country.”

It turns out that some Warsaw students had been told not to wear red, white and blue to the game against Plymouth.

“A thorough review will be conducted on communications with the cheer block surrounding this situation,” Hoffert wrote. “Any statement or perceived action of removal for wearing patriotic colors was never intended, nor was the stance for the theme of the night to appear in any manner unpatriotic. A sincere apology goes out from WCHS for any comments or actions contrary to our well-established policy and strong pride in America.”

Later in the week, Hoffert issued additional statements that included: 

“Upon investigation on Tuesday after the Labor Day weekend, there were mistakes that took place leading up to Friday's game. Military Armed Services Night was intended to be a patriotic display honoring our men and women in the Armed Services. The color for the evening was camouflage.

“Statements leading up to the game stressed the theme, which included wearing camouflage, military flag and designs, and unfortunately also included some statements not to wear red, white or blue or bring the American flag. These statements by a select individual were not intended to be unpatriotic, but instead to focus the cheer block on the intended theme of the evening. It is fully understood the wrong and hurtful communication that was delivered to our students and community, and for this we sincerely apologize. Protocols are being put in place to safeguard against a similar situation from occurring again in the future.”

In this instance, the student body and cheer block were being penalized for actions at a 2016 game. This isn't fair, but the administration was in a difficult situation and felt it was being proactive, trying to prevent a recurrence of negativity. There was fault with both sides of the issue and there were instances of miscommunication. 

It goes to show that patriotism and politics are not always viewed in the same way and, as usual, sports and politics simply don't mix. Just ask Colin Kaepernick. 

Greg Jones is the assistant sports editor for The Journal Gazette and has been covering sports in Fort Wayne since 1998. He can be reached by email at gjones@jg.net; phone, 461-8224; or fax, 461-8648.