School changes ‘blackout' themed football game after racial implication concerns

by: Graham Johnson, Casey McNerthney Updated:

A blackout football game Friday at Lake Washington High School was cancelled after a parent and community members complained about racial implications of the terminology.

The campus also was defaced Friday with vulgar, anti-Donald Trump graffiti and statements against "LW." 
 
Blackout games -- where players dress in black uniforms, in some cases made specifically for the event -- are common in college and high school football, as are whiteout games. Fans also are encouraged to wear the corresponding color. 
 
After the parent and community members, who were not identified, expressed concern Lake Washington High administrators “determined that moving forward they wanted to ensure all students, staff, parents and community members felt welcome to attend and enjoy our sporting events,” said Lake Washington School District spokeswoman Beth Pendegrass.
 
She said no students complained.

Scroll down to read additional details. 


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Regarding the graffiti, Lake Washington principal Christina Thomas sent a letter to parents Friday.

"Law enforcement is on site and a report has been filed," the letter stated. "We are working cooperatively with law enforcement to assist in identifying the vandal(s) involved in the incident. In addition, a number of support services staff and custodians have arrived on site to begin the tedious work of cleaning up the graffiti."

The vandalism said "F*** Trump, F*** LW," and "Take the path of least resistance." There was also a rambling statement along a school wall.

"The nature of the graffiti is offensive," Thomas wrote in the letter. "This type of behavior will not be tolerated." 

Her letter did not address the blackout game, and it's not clear if the vandalism is connected to the changed event.  

Instead of the blackout theme for Friday's home game against W.F. West High, administrators planned a tye-dye night. But there was confusion because the Lake Washington football team will still wear black uniforms. Pendegrass acknowledged the communication could have been better, but doesn’t think the decision will be a surprise. 

Parents contacted KIRO 7 about the change after hearing that some students would not be admitted if they wore black, and that the blackout theme, which had been done at Lake Washington for years, was being cancelled.  Pendergrass clarified that the game was not cancelled and said students who wore black would not be turned away.
 
Students were told about the change verbally during classes, and the decision was put on the administration in general instead of a specific leader.

The University of Washington and other Pac 12 teams also has done blackout games, and whiteout, though all official communication doesn’t use the term. University of Washington athletics even created a promotional video for an earlier blackout game, encouraging fans to wear back. Many other teams around the Northwest and around the country have done blackout and whiteout games.

Lake Washington, a Class 3A school that plays in the KingCo Conference, appears to be the first local high school to change such an event because of community concerns of racial implications. 
 
Lake Washington, a school about 20 minutes east of Seattle, enters the game undefeated after three games atop the KingCo 3A standings. WF West, a school from Chehalis which is roughly two-hour drive south of Seattle, also enters the game undefeated after two games. They are a Class 2A school and top the Evergreen Conference rankings.

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