A senior football player at Bloomfield Hills High School in metropolitan Detroit is banned from attending any fall sporting events for an innocuous comment made at a soccer game. He was originally banned from playing in the final game of his high school football career by the school’s administration, but a petition on Change.org and a social media blitz helped change the decision.
According to a petition on Change.org, student Jay Cooke yelled, “get that boy a banana,” to a soccer player on the opposing team who collapsed with a leg cramp, since bananas are high in potassium and used to combat muscle cramps. A school administrator assumed his comment was a racist attack at the other school and reported him, reports WXYZ.com.
“I was in no way trying to be racist and I hope that those who perceived it as such can forgive me for this. Southfield Lathrup played a great game and I am extremely sorry for saying what I did, but I can say whole heartedly that it was not meant to be a racist in any way,” Cooke said in the Change.org petition.
The petition, started by Cooke’s friend and teammate, reached 2200 signatures by the afternoon of Friday’s game, and school administrators announced the reduced sentence before the game, allowing him to play but still serve a punishment consistent with his comments, which the administration called “hurtful to players of the opposing team” in their statement.
According to the most recent information, none of the opposing team’s players complained about the statement.
“Jay is one of the most respectful and kindest kids at the school. There is no way imaginable that Jay would have intended that comment to be rude in any way, let alone racist. It is simply unfair that Jay is being punished for this comment,” Noah Nathan said in the petition, of which he is the creator.
In the petition, BHHS administrators identified social media as one reason for the reduced sentence, referencing the outpouring of support for Cooke on Twitter and the hashtag #FreeJay:
BHHS doesn't care about their students, they only care about how they look to the community #FreeJay
— Finessa Hudgens (@MichaelKunzz) October 22, 2015
Praying that my boy Jay can play Friday night
— The Doctor (@fos_da_boss) October 22, 2015