State senator: Revoke Coronado’s championship for tortilla throwing

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UPDATE: CIF issued an update Thursday saying it expects a ruling “during the upcoming week.” Read more.

SAN DIEGO — California state Sen. Ben Hueso is calling for Coronado High School’s basketball championship to be revoked after the tortilla-throwing incident that led to national controversy and the firing of the team’s coach.

“I am calling for the immediate revocation of #coronadohighschool’s basketball championship status by @CIFState,” the lawmaker wrote on Twitter, referring to California Interscholarstic Federation, the state’s governing body for high school sports.

“Letting this stew implies there is a question as to the acceptability of this behavior. CIF must condemn this racism swiftly & definitively.”

In the aftermath of a championship game between Coronado and Orange Glen High School last Saturday, video showed tortillas being thrown onto the court and at Orange Glen players after Coronado won the game. It had been a fiercely competitive match that saw verbal sparring between the teams, fans and their coaches.

Orange Glen serves predominantly Latino students, and the act was condemned as racist by local activistscoaches from both teamsschool leaders and other community members.

The man who says he brought the tortillas claims throwing the food was intended only to celebrate a victory, and that there was “absolutely no racial intent” in regards to the team’s opponent.

Hueso, who represents parts of San Diego and Imperial County, wrote that in addition to the team losing its championship status, CIF should “take meaningful steps to ensure that referees for every sport under its banner understand how to identify racist acts and how to stop a game and/or nullify its results on the spot for any team that engages in racist behavior.”

He included a copy of the letter he sent to CIF leadership.

CIF issued a statement in response Thursday, saying it expects a ruling at some point “during the upcoming week,” after giving the school and local district time to investigate.

Coronado High alum Luke Serna told FOX 5 Wednesday that he brought the tortillas to mimic a celebratory tradition done at various sporting events for UC Santa Barbara, which he says he attended from 1999 to 2004.

“I realize the tortilla throwing has been perceived as racially insensitive. I do not condone racially insensitive behavior, and that was not my intent,” he wrote in a statement. “I apologize to all who were hurt by this and hope it can be a teaching moment for us all to become more conscious.”

Lizardo Reynoso, an assistant basketball coach at Orange Glen, told FOX 5 Monday that the team was “very offended and very hurt.” Mark Madore, a Orange Glen guard, said he’d never experienced anything like it. “I felt like we were really disrespected,” he said.

The Coronado school board has apologized to the Orange Glen school community, calling the act “egregious, demeaning, and disrespectful.”

In an interview with FOX 5 Wednesday, Coronado Mayor Richard Bailey said police and district officials are still investigating.

“What transpired at the end of the game appears to be unsportsmanlike conduct that was racially insensitive, as opposed to something that was racially motivated. I think that’s a really important distinction,” he said.

“It doesn’t take away from the fact that a lot of people in the Orange Glen community were offended and were insulted.”

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