Team kicked out of league for 'offensive' basketball jerseys

Team kicked out of league for 'offensive' basketball jerseys
One of the offensive, racially-charged jerseys said "Knee Grow" (Provided photo)

KINGS MILLS, OH (FOX19) - A Cincinnati-area recreational basketball team is now at the center of an investigation launched by the Cincinnati NAACP.

The players are accused of wearing jerseys that some believe were both inappropriate and offensive.

The team, made up of high school-aged students from the Kings Mill area, was part of the Cincinnati Premier Youth Basketball League.

The Kings recreational basketball team was playing a game at West Clermont Middle School on Sunday when parents of the opposing team, a West Clermont recreational team, noticed the players were wearing jerseys they found disturbing.

On one side of the jerseys was the team name, the "Wet Dream Team," considered by some to be sexual in nature.

On the back of the jerseys, in place of players real names, at least three jerseys showed terms like "Knee Grow" and "Coon" - terms that have been labeled derogatory, racially insensitive and appalling.

"It's a racial thing. It's a bullying thing. It's everything wrapped into one," said Tony Rue, who said his son plays on the West Clermont team that was there Sunday.

Rue said the offensive jerseys had been worn for three or four games.

League officials shut down the game and said they have dismissed the team from the league.

"They were trying to say it was their last name, it was in joking fashion," Rue said. "Then their parents came over, and they were mad about paying the $7 entry fee and not completing the game."

The Cincinnati NAACP is now getting involved. Officials said someone in the Kings community reached out to them for assistance.

They're hoping the players will learn something.

"This is a teachable moment for them to understand how these words are hurtful," Joe Mallory, the first VP of the Cincinnati NAACP said. "They're inflammatory, and they're divisive to the entire community."

The adults who allowed the boys to wear the jerseys should be held accountable, Mallory said.

"It's everybody's problem. It's everybody's business that when these things happen we all stand up and speak out on it," Mallory said.

A spokesperson for the Kings Local School District said she cannot discuss whether any students will be disciplined due to privacy laws. She also said the team is not associated with the school district in any way and provided a statement:

"Today we became aware of inappropriate conduct from a team of students participating in a recreational basketball league that is not affiliated with the Kings Local School District. This team has been restricted from any further use of district facilities. Kings Local Schools strongly condemns any type of hateful and racist commentary. This behavior is in no way welcome or tolerated in our schools and community."

The Cincinnati Premier Youth Basketball League also provided a statement:

"CPYBL was developed to provide the best possible basketball experience for the youth of our communities and their families and has always been committed to bringing a positive experience to all of our members.  Based on the information that we received, the actions and conduct of the team in question did not comply with our stated mission and expected standards and that team has, therefore, been dismissed from our league."

Charrise Middleton, the coordinator for Kings Rec Basketball 7-12, told FOX19 NOW:

"When I learned of the uniform infractions last night the team involved was immediately removed from the league and will not be returning to play this season.  Kings Rec Basketball for grades 7-12 does not in any way support or condone the uniform infractions that occurred.  We strictly follow and support the rules set out by CPYBL and fully support their decision to remove the team from play as well."

Middleton also provided a statement on behalf of the team's coach:

"We sincerely apologize to anyone that was offended by the jerseys.  We offered to cover them up or change, however the league saw fit to remove us and we have accepted that decision."

Copyright 2018 WXIX. All rights reserved.