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Phillips: The racism and sexism in our society reveals itself often in the passion for sports

“The Vandal Bonfire is a long-standing tradition in Van ISD that dates back to the 1940s. When this tradition began, our bonfire was constructed by senior students; however, after an incident in the mid-2000s when a student broke his wrist during construction, the district decided to halt the tradition. In 2017, the bonfire tradition was reinstated with the construction process handled by Van ISD staff rather than students for safety reasons. Our community and alumni have been very excited to see this beloved tradition return. After videos of the bonfire posted by the district on social media following the bonfire last night, comments arose in the thread accusing the district of racism. Historically, the number on the player’s jersey at the top of the bonfire has always been the same number as the opposing team’s best player. This is by no means a racial issue and never has been. Van ISD would never promote, condone, or allow this long-standing tradition to target an opposing team or player because of their race. We understand that some people who are not familiar with our bonfire tradition could misinterpret photos or videos they may have seen on social media due to the current charged social and political climate. For this reason, future bonfires will not include a mock football player of the opposing team. We sincerely regret if anyone was offended by this tradition that has always centered around good-natured school spirit between rival teams and are saddened that the character of our upstanding school community has been called in to question.”

Carron J. Phillips

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