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New York fans’ racially derogatory chant mars and delays rivalry game

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Burnt Hills football coach Matt Shell had to plead with fans to get them to stop racist chants — Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Central Schools

Burnt Hills football coach Matt Shell had to plead with fans to get them to stop racist chants — Burnt Hills-Ballston …

A rivalry game in upstate New York was delayed by racially derogatory chants aimed at the multiethnic student body of one of the schools.

As reported by the Albany Times Union, among other outlets, fans of the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake High football team (Burnt Hills, N.Y.) began chanting "Amster-rico" at fans from the Amsterdam High squad (Amsterdam, N.Y.) during the teams' game on Friday night. Amsterdam has a population that includes a number of Hispanic players while Burnt Hills-Ballston's student makeup is predominantly white.

The chanting was so persistent that the game was eventually delayed for Burnt Hills football coach Matt Shell to make an announcement pleading with the Burnt Hills student section to stop the chant. He event went so far as to threaten to end the game prematurely if the chants continued.

Burnt Hills won the game in a 49-0 rout, but Shell made it clear that he was at least as concerned with the behavior of the student section as he was with the final result.

"The thing in the stands was kids and not the adults," Shell told the Times-Union. "Kids are kids, and they get emotional. You see it on the football field, it's an emotional game. The Amsterdam kids, we've played them for years, and they're good kids. That stuff, there's no place for it in the game, whether it's coming from the stands or whether it's coming from the field. There's no place for it."

There is no indication that Burnt Hills could face any sanctions or punishment for the actions of the fans at the game; after all, there was no indication that anyone affiliated with the football program was in any way connected to the chants whatsoever. Nevertheless, the entire sordid incident reinforces just how far we are from ridding the specter of racism from sports at any level.

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