Alabama school uses Trail of Tears reference in pregame run-through banner

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally
This run-through sign landed the McAdory High cheerleaders in hot water — Tumblr
This run-through sign landed the McAdory High cheerleaders in hot water — Tumblr

This is not good at all.

On Friday, McAdory High (McCalla, Ala.) faced off against Pinson Valley High (Pinson) in the second round of the Alabama Class 5A playoffs. McAdory emerged victorious, 34-17, but the real headline came from what happened before the game kicked off.

As reported by, among other sources, McAdory’s cheerleaders produced a traditional paper run-through banner for the team to break through as it entered this field. This time, the banner attempted to poke fun at the Pinson Valley mascot, the Indians, with a culturally insensitive reference to the Trail of Tears, an allusion to the forcible removal of Native Americans from the Southeast to modern day Oklahoma in the 1830s.

On Monday, the first day that the schools were back in session, McAdory principal Tod Humphries took full responsibility for the sign’s appearance in a full apology issued to the public via the school’s website.

Here is the most important part of Humphries’ apology:

This was not condoned by the school administration, the Jefferson County Board of Education or the community. The person who would normally be responsible for approving such signs is out on maternity leave, and I take full responsibility that arrangements were not made to have the signs pre-approved before the ballgame. Please accept our sincere apologies to the Native American people and to anyone who was offended by the reference to an event that is a stain on our nation’s past forever.

While there was no initial word on whether the students involved would be disciplined in any way, Humphries was clear that all social studies and history classes would be required to re-teach all units that touch on the Indian Removal Act of 1830.
This is the second unfortunate issue regarding a run-through sign in Alabama this year; Hoover High cheerleaders used a sign with a glaring spelling error in August.

The McAdory football team will move on to the third round of the playoffs to compete against Southside High (Gadsden) on Friday. It’s anyone’s guess whether the cheerleaders are allowed to bring out another run-through sign. If they do, you can bet it will be double-checked.

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Cameron Smith is the editor of Prep Rally on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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