North Dakota HS Whiteout Turns Controversial

One of the more fun traditions in sports, the whiteout is where fans dress in white shirts or jerseys to create a more intimidating atmosphere for opposing teams. It was started over 25 years ago by the original Winnipeg Jets, who since took the tradition with them when they moved to Phoenix.

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If there’s any demographic of society who will usually get a “free pass” when it comes to making bad decisions, it’s teenagers. We have all been there; where we made silly decisions where we thought it was funny only to later realize you did something wrong. What happened Friday night in Grand Forks, North Dakota is something that doesn’t warrant a free pass but yet a stern talking to and a history lesson in their actions.

Ralph Engelstad Arena hosted the state tournament over the weekend. The semifinal between Grand Forks Red River and Fargo Davies had controversy in the Red River student section. They were dressed in the white to create the whiteout atmosphere. But it was University of North Dakota student Shane Schuster who spotted something unusual and his tweet made this high school hockey game become national news. According to a Fox News report, some students from Red River were wearing wearing Ku Klux Klan-style white robes and hoods. Schuster, 19, said “I thought, ‘Are those KKK hoods?’ I couldn’t believe it,” he said. “I was shocked.”

It was also reported that after Schuster took a picture and posted it to Twitter, arena officials and security acted quickly to have the robes and hoods removed. Red River officials are also investigating the incident. The students in the photo have been identified. It’s also worthy to note that Davies High School is named in honor of Ronald Davies, the former federal judge from Fargo whose 1957 rulings integrated Central High School in Little Rock, Ark. — a pivotal event in the civil rights movement.

The news should have been focused on the players from Red River, as they went on to defeat Davies 2-0 and won the state championship Saturday when they defeated Grafton-Park River 7-1.

Hopefully this can serve as a teachable moment for the students. They have to learn that while they believe it to be harmless, the perception of their attire has different historical meanings. Let’s hope an incident like this will never occur again inside a hockey arena, football stadium, or anywhere else in the United States. If you want to see the photo Schuster tweeted and make a decision for yourself, you can visit the story published by USA Today.

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