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Elder hits the court to chants of 'National news!' after racist incident

Posted at 11:23 PM, Feb 09, 2018

CINCINNATI -- Crow eaten, apologies issued and feet summarily removed from mouths, Elder High School's boys basketball team returned to the court a week after racist chanting from the student cheering section forced their game against St. Xavier to a halt.

In La Salle, they found a Greater Catholic League rival eager to remind them of the incident by chanting "National news!" early and often.

Bill Koch, a 1971 La Salle graduate who wrote a book about Elder, didn't chant but said he wasn't surprised when he learned what had happened the previous Friday -- which, for the uninitiated, included cries of "P.F. Chang's!" and "Open your eyes!" directed at an Asian player.

"I do think it's very sad," he said. "I also know it's not the first time it's happened."

According to Koch, Northwestern University's Jeremy Larkin got the same treatment when he was La Salle's running back. 

"No Elder administrator or teacher tried to stop them," he said. "They just kept doing it. Every time they played, they'd do it. I'm glad somebody finally called it to their attention.

"I think they've learned their lesson," he added. "I don't think Elder's a bad place."

Other parents and alumni said they were ready to put the incident behind them and insisted it was not representative of the school.

"I was embarrassed," Eric Vogelpohl, who graduated from Elder in '86, said. "I talked to my friends. We're all embarrassed. … These are 16- or 17-year-old kids doing stupid things, and as a result it makes the whole community look bad, but it's not an overall reflection of the Elder community."

Elder students and administrators released multiple public apologies for the chanting and visited St. Xavier to express their regret in person.

"We, as a school and a community, must challenge ourselves to confront racism and bigotry head on," Principal Kurt Ruffing said Thursday night at the Elder Sports Stag. "It has no place in our society."

The Panthers lost to La Salle 60-53 Friday night.