Bud Walpole, head football coach at Academic Magnet High in Charleston, South Carolina, got fired because his team smashed watermelons to commemorate their victory over a team with Black opponents, Raw Story reported.
Walpole’s termination was announced earlier this week by Charleston County school district superintendent Dr. Nancy McGinley after a district-led investigation determined that not only did the team smash the watermelons, they drew faces on and named them.
“It is our conclusion that the accountability lies with the adults,” said McGinley. “That the perceptions and the practices that were part of the ritual were not something that the adults should have sanctioned, and therefore we took action yesterday.”
It was noted that several of Academic Magnet’s opponents were predominantly Black teams, while Academic Magnet has one black player. A complaint was filed reporting that the team was making “animalistic or monkey-like chants” after their games, the time at which they smashed the watermelons.
Despite the investigation, Darius Nwokike, the team’s sole Black player, actually defended his coach.
“It was just something we could look forward to during the week,” said Nwokike. “It really started by accident. We’d go to the Subway before games, and before the second game of the season, one of the players saw a watermelon stand. He thought it would be cool to buy one and maybe we could eat it after the game if we won. Well, we won and we broke the watermelon because we didn’t want to cut it. It was a tradition that lasted six games.”
No doubt this series of events is a strange one. Perhaps the tradition didn’t have a racial intent; however, be that as it may, one thing Walpole is guilty is a serious lack of self- and social-awareness. There are other people in this world than him and his team.