CAMBRIDGE CITY, Ind. — A high school football prank this week resulted in an apology by a Wayne County school to its sectional opponent from Henry County.
In advance of Lincoln High School’s semifinal game in the Class A sectional against Tri High on Friday night, Lincoln football parents decorated their players’ locker room this week.
Those decorations included a candy-filled pinata, an effigy of a Tri High player, hanging in the locker room. A number was placed on the effigy and then a Lincoln supporter took a cell-phone photo of it and sent it to a friend at Tri High, according to a statement released Friday by Western Wayne Schools’ attorney.
Only then did the Lincoln supporters determine the number belonged to a black player at Tri High, who did not play when the two schools met during the regular season, according to the statement.
School district attorney Walt Chidester called the prank “a well-intentioned but not-thought-through display” in his statement.
“This incident was not racially motivated,” Chidester said. “Lincoln High School and Western Wayne School Corporation deeply apologize to the Tri High player whose number was on the uniform and to his family for the use of the football pinata effigy and any perception of it as racially motivated.”
Chidester said the two schools “have been working together throughout the day (Friday) to address the misperceptions and rumors that have surfaced on social media and in the two schools as a result of the football uniform pinata.”
“Such effigies have been used periodically in the past by Lincoln for some key football games,” Chidester said. “Since neither Lincoln nor Tri High has a winning season, the excitement of another sectional game stoked feelings high for the players and their supporters.”
Chidester said the players and their supporters also apologized for the misunderstanding.
“It clearly was not the thought or intent of the Lincoln supporters or football players that this incident was anything more than a school rivalry,” the statement said.