I wanted to take a moment to address some recent events that have occurred in the athletic arena. These issues are not always easy to discuss but it is imperative as a community that we address it.
In the last three weeks, there have been two incidents involving alleged comments made during athletic events that were regarded as racially charged. In each case, these alleged words were heard by the teammates of the Perrysburg student athletes to whom the comments were directed. In these alleged cases, one occurred with a private school and the other a public school. The other schools reacted quickly and thoroughly to the situations, including one of the schools issuing a public statement.
In both cases, we are proud of the way our coaches and athletes responded to each situation. We respect the courage it takes for individuals who may be the target of hurtful statements and their teammates to come forward and say something about what they heard.
No school is immune from these events. In Perrysburg, we communicate with our families when we discover or encounter hate speech, as we reported recently when graffiti was discovered in a bathroom stall. Remaining silent has not been the path we have chosen in addressing these situations. We feel it is only when we identify, call attention to and commit to addressing this that awareness and change come. Equally important is our families need to see how we respond when these instances occur.
With the recent events still fresh in our minds, we have begun a dialogue with school leaders across Northwest Ohio in our athletic community. This important dialogue will focus on how we can work together to foster a better culture of high expectations, increased communications and when such incidents occur, we want to speak as one community, with one voice against hate speech.
Most importantly, as we plan for this work, we are excited about the possibility of bringing a variety of student athletes from each participating school together and give them a voice, listen to them and learn what they are experiencing and how they would like to see the greater athletic community respond when faced with these issues. I have been so proud of our student athletes throughout these situations, not only for their actions but for what they have shared about why they stand together. There is no doubt that every school and every team has the potential to contribute to a community that stands against hate.
We may be competitors, wear different jerseys and even be bitter rivals when we take to the fields, courts or track. However, all of our student athletes are part of a larger community. When these events occur, we should not respond as individuals, a team or a school. We must respond as a community. Our goal for this community is to maintain an environment where student athletes, coaches, officials, families and fans can come together and be supported and valued for who they are. We want to build a culture in our community where we stand together and are willing to hold each other accountable as players, coaches, families and fans alike.
We are not sure where this conversation will go, but we are committed to ensuring that our students feel supported and welcomed within our community.
Thomas L. Hosler