After hearing a teammate call a player on an opposing team the N-word, several Black football players at a northeast Texas high school were set to boycott their school’s game Friday night. They said they’re willing to boycott multiple games if that’s what it takes.
“This week has been crazy. We’ve never been through this as a team,” Kam Kimble, a senior and star varsity running back at Lake Worth High School, told the Fort Worth Star Telegram this week. “I was upset about it, and I know some of the others were upset about it. It’s a lot bigger than football. I’m not doing this to get my name or face out there. Something needs to change. We need some change and then I’ll be back.”
Kimble said he and some of his teammates would not travel to Wichita Falls Hirschi for their scheduled game on Friday, Oct. 2. He said he won’t suit up again until acceptable action is taken against one of his teammates who lodged a racial slur at an opposing player from Polytechnic High School during a game Friday, Sept. 25.
The boycott is a follow-up to a protest of practice by most Lake Worth players Monday, Sept. 28, after the initial complaint about the incident was ignored.
Though directed at someone else, Kimble said the slur coming from one of his own teammates was particularly painful because he had a similar experience on Sept. 18 during a game in Venus, Texas.
“I was really upset with what happened in Venus. I didn’t do anything to the other person and he called me a slur,” Kimble said. “Coming back the next week to hear a teammate saying it to another player, it’s disappointing. For it to be one of your teammates, it hurts.”
It’s not the first time Kimble has experienced racism according to his mother, Rachel Martinez. Kimble tweeted he was “More than an athlete” Thursday, Oct. 1. Martinez, said she is proud of her son and his teammates who refuse to tolerate racism and injustice.
She tweeted “If you stand for nothing, you fall for everything,” and said it wasn’t surprising the initial complaint about the racial slur went unpunished.
“The team followed protocol and reported it, but it was discredited which is exactly what happens in society. You look at young Black men, they can’t be telling the truth because they’re Black,” Martinez told the Star-Telegram. “They continue to be profiled and stereotyped and all of that has to stop. I want discipline to the person that said it and I want discipline to the person that discredited it.”
After Kimble and his teammates took their stance, the Lake Worth Independent School District released a statement noting they did an investigation into the matter.
They said while “corrective actions have been taken,” they couldn’t disclose the nature of those actions or the identity of the student who said the racial slur due to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.
The district did bring in Dr. Nathaniel Hearne – a respected principal, former football coach and character education facilitator – as a guest speaker at a private meeting in an effort to work through the tension. Lake Worth head coach Tracy Welch said they will continue to do the necessary work.
“Although we will continue to work at building trust and repairing relationships, I believe this exercise was a good first step for our team to begin moving forward,” Welch said.
The player who said the racial slur apologized, according to those at the meeting, but Kimble said he didn’t think it was sincere.
He apologized on his teammate’s behalf.
“I want to apologize for my teammate’s actions. That is not what we represent,” Kimble said. “And, to anyone else going through this and is scared of speaking up, they should because [otherwise] it will get thrown under the rug.”
Wichita Falls Hirschi beat Lake Worth High 42-20 Friday night. It is not known exactly how many Lake Worth players boycotted the game.