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Schools address slurs at football game
BURNT HILLS -- No basking in glory tonight for Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake football fans. A huge victory on the field against Amsterdam Saturday is being overshadowed by what was said in the stands, and it has both school districts planning to take action Tuesday.
Several BH-BL students are under the stadium spotlight for punting an ethnic slur against the people of the visiting team's town. No players were part of this as far as we know, but it almost cost the game and may cost several students even more.
"We've definitely heard a lot about this," said Alexandra Casey, a graduate and substitute teacher at BH-BL. "You don't want that reputation here at burnt hills because that's not what our community is about."
Attention at Saturday's game against Amsterdam was passed from the field to the stands when Spartan students started yelling out a derogatory term against Amsterdam's Hispanic population.
"Kids were chanting stuff and they got yelled at in the middle of the game," recalled BH-BL senior Emily VanBuskirk. "They said they were going to stop the game if it didn't end."
It did. Burnt Hills beat Amsterdam 49-0. But that landslide is blemished. In a letter to Amsterdam administrators obtained by CBS6, Burnt Hills staff apologized and wrote: "where appropriate, disciplinary consequences will be applied."
"They could learn from this and really learn what true sportsmanship is like and be a team player and supporting one another," Casey said.
"Burnt Hills is normally really classy and we don't really do stuff like that," VanBuskirk said.
The district will talk Tuesday about a game plan moving forward. Administrators wrote to Amsterdam: "We will make every effort to ensure that the students involved learn from this situation. It is our hope that the friendly rivalry, one that is based on mutual respect and understanding between our schools, continues to grow."
The slurs were the chatter of the morning at the Burnt Hills Diner, where patrons offered a few goals students could rush to.
"Maybe showing Amsterdam colors one day I think would show that they do respect them and they're sorry for what happened," said Brad Hough.
"I think it's a big deal and I think it would be a good way to show the kids that wasn't a correct way to act and you should better it instead of just ignoring it," said Carol Melander.
Meanwhile, Amsterdam administrators will meet with players tomorrow. Superintendent Tom Perillo may tell the students, among other things, "that's not a reflection of the entire Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake School District. It was the response of probably very few students that were at that game."
Teachers at Amsterdam will wear the school's colors, purple and gold tomorrow, to highlight school pride. "We want to turn it in to something, an opportunity that's teachable," Perillo said. "Even though we have a diversified community, that is nothing to be ashamed of. We're very proud of that fact."
Even after the game is over, it could be a lesson to be learned according to some students for more than just football fans.
"I don't want to single out one district like Burnt Hills because it's said by a lot of people," said Amsterdam student Gabby DiSalvi. "It's even said by kids here which is disappointing."
We find a group of kids throwing the football around on their day off from school and says everyone knows the term the Burnt Hills kids used.
"We always play we always have some common rivalry but we don't need to carry it on to people saying names," said Amsterdam sophomore Michael O'Neil.
"Everyone has to set an example for each other," DiSalvi said. "They're only doing it because they've heard it from other people. It's still not right but it's not like it started from them."