On September 23, 2017, Weld Central’s football team faced Manual High School. The next day, the media was filled with accusations of a Confederate flag being flown during the game. Fox News and 9-News both reported on the allegations from Manual. Weld Central parents who were at the game immediately commented that the statements were false. This conversation led to many people using Weld Central’s mascot, the Rebel, to support their arguments.
The principal of Manual, Nick Dawkins, stated that Weld Central fans, “displayed a Confederate flag during the first quarter of the game.” Many people who were in the audience said that statement wasn’t true. The head coach at Weld Central, James Canaday, says he was, “The first one on the field, there was nothing like that at the game.” There were also allegations of racial slurs being used. Canaday said, “Playing sports is a privilege…If any of my players insulted the other team, they wouldn’t be playing.” He expects outstanding morals and behavior from his team.
Manual High was never able to provide proof of a Confederate flag being flown. However, many Weld Central parents had allegations of their own. The WC parents claimed to have witnessed students and parents from Manual High threatening Weld Central fans and insulting football players from Weld Central. The situation escalated until the Rebel’s football team was escorted out of the field by police for their protection. Additional allegations include threats made to the dance and cheer teams. Ashlynn Dowdy, a dancer for Weld Central, said that it was a chaotic situation and that she was, “A little bit confused.” Dowdy was confused why there was so much conflict at the time. She also stated that it was a scary situation, and she “Wouldn’t want to go back to Manual.” Furthermore, there were even reports of a car following the buses after the game in which the occupants performed obscene gestures. Some WC students, who were riding on the bus, provided videos of the lewd display.
These faulty accusations of a Confederate flag displayed on the field may be the result of Weld Central’s mascot, the Rebel. It is often seen as a Confederate soldier. Regardless, the Confederate soldier uniforms were grey, and the Rebel’s mascot is blue and red. It is true that there used to be Confederate symbolism involved with the mascot, such as the flag, but that was removed long ago. The Confederate flag is not allowed in Weld Central. Weld Central states in the school handbook that “clothing which includes any image or reference to drugs, sex, alcohol, tobacco, violence, guns, gangs, profanity, derogatory slurs or symbols, the Confederate flag,” are all prohibited. In addition, Weld Central rarely even uses the mascot. Most of Weld Central’s shirts and jerseys have a WC logo on them, and not the Rebel. Nonetheless, it is undeniable that the mascot was based upon a Confederate soldier. With no proof of a flag being flown and no confederate symbolism in Weld Central’s mascot, Manual had no reason to accuse Weld Central of using racist slurs.
As both schools try to move past this conflict, everyone affected should regard this as an opportunity to grow. We should take this chance to revisit the mascot and make sure we remove any correlation between it and racism. The principals and superintendents from each school wrote a joint letter to the community. They used the letter as a chance to create a bond between two very different communities. They stated, “Our focus now must be on working together for the sake of our students.” They continued to explain that a program is being created wherein student leaders from each school will have a chance to share perspectives and even visit each other’s schools.
In the spirit of moving peacefully, coach James Canaday stated, “This has brought the team closer together; it’s an opportunity for learning.” Nonetheless, Canaday believes Weld Central deserves an apology.