High School Football Team Rocked By Disturbing Text Message

Filed under: Sports


High school sports are supposed to turn teammates into friends, sometimes for a lifetime. That's not what happened this season at Centennial High School in Circle Pines, Minnesota.

In November, a white member of the football team was suspended from school and kicked off the team after admitting he sent a racially offensive text message to an African American teammate.

The text was a case study in intolerance and insensitivity -- an image of a noose, a hangman's post and a sign that said "For sale: [N-word] swing set." The student who received it on his phone, Michael Gilbreath II, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that he found the text very disturbing.

"I was very shocked. I couldn't believe what I was actually looking at," Gilbreath, a junior running back, told the newspaper.

Michael shared the image with his father, who immediately contacted school officials. "This is a symbol of murder. When people see a noose, they think of slavery and murder," the elder Michael Gilbreath told the Star Tribune.

School officials haven't released the name of the suspended Centennial High student, nor has it disclosed the discipline handed out. Principal Tom Breuning told the newspaper that the violation requires a minimum five-day suspension from school.

Gilbreath and the text's sender had been football teammates for many years – since the eighth grade. Gilbreath didn't recognize the telephone number when he received the text, and messaged back asking the sender for his name. The sender replied, telling Gilbreath not to worry.

Gilbreath's parents then spoke with Centennial High School officials. Soon after, the student who'd sent the offensive text message called Gilbreath to say he was sorry and that he hadn't meant it as a threat.

"I accepted his apology, but it doesn't excuse what he did," the younger Gilbreath told the Star Tribune.

Centennial football high coach Mike Watson relayed a similar message to his team. "I told them that's not what we're about and we're not going to tolerate it," he told the newspaper.

Related: Mom Says Math Homework Is Racist

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.