Jeremiah Chapman, a Black four-sport student-athlete at Charles City High School in Iowa, recently dealt with racist chants during a baseball game. His school's team faced off with Waverly-Shell Rock High School as part of a doubleheader game, which featured some trash talk. However, some unidentified individuals chanted that Chapman "should have been George Floyd" in reference to the Black man who was killed while in police custody in May, prompting nationwide protests.
The 17-year-old athlete spoke to KTTC in Iowa, providing details about the chants he heard. He said that they began during the fourth or fifth inning. Chapman said that he has heard one comment during his high school baseball career, but the recent game was very different. The comments lobbed at Chapman were far more racist and hateful in tone.
This is my boy! He is kind, sweet and talented.. if you can’t see beyond his skin color then sucks for you! And just and FYI...he has never worked on a field...his name is Jeremiah not Colin...he doesn’t care who you support politically..and he doesn’t remind you of George Floyd! pic.twitter.com/t5YCZKkS9c— Keisha M. Cunnings (@Mrz_Keisha) July 1, 2020
"I have never heard comments like this said throughout all my life playing sports," Chapman said, per KTTC. "There was one comment last year during baseball, but that was nowhere near what was said this time. They started calling me Colin. ... That made me assume they are talking about Colin Kaepernick."
Chapman explained that the comments didn't end with the references to the former NFL quarterback. He said that the people taunting him — he believes they were Waverly players — also told him to "go back to the fields." They ultimately escalated and invoked Floyd's name.
"I caught another foul ball and then the comment came out that I should've been George Floyd," Chapman said. "And that's what really hit me, especially the time. Going through my head, I was like why?" Chapman said that he headed to the van after the game and began crying. He texted his mother, Keisha Cunnings, and told her that he doesn't want to play baseball anymore.
Both schools acknowledged the incident, and Waverly-Shell Rock released multiple statements on Facebook. The first confirmed that the comments were made during the game. Later statements said that the investigation is still ongoing and that administrators are trying to determine the source of the comments.0comments
"Waverly-Shell Rock schools fully acknowledge that there was an incident at a recent baseball game that had one of our fans make extremely inappropriate, bigoted comments towards a Charles City player," the statement read in part. "This behavior is unacceptable. We make no excuses because there are none. We do, however, wish to make a sincere apology to the Charles City school district and community and, in particular, the young man towards whom these comments were directed."
The Charles City community showed Chapman considerable support following this incident, which changed his opinion about further pursuing baseball. He explained that he will continue as a member of the team during his senior season. "I'm gonna keep playing baseball. I like it. Everyone's got my back, I have everyone; family, friends, teammates, coaches," Champman said. "I'm going to keep being me. I am not going to let this bring me down and stopping me from doing stuff that I love."