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On September 28, 2018, the St.

Joseph’s football team was together at Coach Sacco’s home in


Hammonton, New Jersey. It is the eve before then-ranked No. 1 ranked in South Jersey St. Josephs was
to face then-ranked No. 4 in South Jersey Haddonfield High School at Bendig Field in Hammonton. As
they have done before every Saturday afternoon game for more than 30 years, Coach Sacco and his
wife, Peggy, hosted the team for pizza and Gatorade as a pre-game bonding ritual. As with most other
Friday night pre-game pizza gathering, Peggy supervised the team while Coach Sacco and the assistant
coaches scout future opponents.

After the team finished eating, the team spent time together to bond and think about the upcoming
game. During that time, an African American senior player exchanged Snapchat videos with an African
American player from Haddonfield. This player said he that he has known the Haddonfield player since
9th grade and that since their schedules listing the matchup were issued this summer, they had trash
talked each other about the game.

In the last pre-game Snapchat, the St Joseph’s senior trash talked the player from Haddonfield, telling
him “ya bout to take that L, yahearit”. Another African American senior player chimes in, as correctly
reported in the news, “I am comin’ for that ass. Rich white boy ass.” An apparent reference to
Haddonfield’s quarterback. The other African American player then says “ya heard n*gga”. The video is
about 8 seconds long.

That evening after the game, the same Haddonfield player that received the video supposedly sent the
same St. Joseph’s player a Snapchat trash talking about Haddonfield’s victory. In the video, the
Haddonfield players were dancing and having fun. The St. Joseph’s player didn’t screenshot the video
from the Haddonfield player. Why would he? To him, it was just trash talk from the victors between
friends. There is no mention of this surrounding Snapchat exchange in any of the articles that we have
read.

Was it acceptable to record and send this video? Obviously not. The video was highly inappropriate.
But, was it racist? And by that, we mean was it intended to express a belief of racial animus or racial
superiority or inferiority towards the Haddonfield player? Absolutely not.

Having seen this video, we believe that this 8 second video was no more than highly inappropriate but
not racist trash talking between 17-year-old high school football players. While as parents, we do not
condone players engaging in the unsportsmanlike conduct reflected in the video, it is similar to what is
said by many players of every race on the field during the game. In fact, some players say much worse.

Local sports writers who cover high school football from the sidelines are well aware of this fact but we
have never seen a story about the trashing talking that goes on any given Friday or Saturday during high
school football season. A comparison of this in-game trash talking to the video was not made in any
article that we had seen. Nor were there any referees, who are on the field and witness it all,
interviewed for these articles. Instead, the only difference here from the trash talking that often goes
on on the field is that it was videoed.

Nonetheless, it seems to us the press and the Camden Diocese are basically accepting the proposition
that the video is a “racist video”, or its “racially charged” and “racially offensive”. They have done so
without really any inquiry as to whether it was racially offensive to the actual participants of the
Snapchat exchange or the white player to whom one of the comments was directed. Also, in the press
accounts that we have seen, we have not seen any explanation as to how this video came to see the
light of day.

Apparently a Haddonfield parent or supporter who is obviously disgruntled over what he or she
perceives to be unfair treatment of Haddonfield’s boys’ lacrosse team to complained to administrators
at St. Josephs and Haddonfield, as well as the press, after gaining access to the video.

For those who are not familiar with that event, a white member of Haddonfield’s boys’ lacrosse team
allegedly used a racial slur towards a ninth-grade African-American competitor from Sterling High School
during a track meet at Haddonfield High School last school year. The member of the Haddonfield boys’
lacrosse team allegedly told the competitor from Sterling to “get off the track” and called the girl the N-
word. As a result, the Haddonfield school district announced the rest of the lacrosse season was
cancelled.

As a result, this Haddonfield parent or supporter sent the video to the press, Haddonfield’s Board of
Education and St. Joseph’s athletic director and principal. The email takes shots at the St. Joseph’s
players and Coach Sacco, as well as Haddonfield’s athletic director and the discipline the Haddonfield
school district imposed on the boys’ lacrosse team as a result of that incident, and stated:

This follows the Spring 2018 incident in which a Haddonfield lacrosse


player was accused of using the "N" Word towards a Sterling high school
track athlete. That allegation was never proven, yet the Haddonfield
lacrosse team had its Spring season cancelled after that allegation, and
since then, the entire Haddonfield student body has been forced to
endure hours of Political Correctness Indoctrination (aka "Sensitivity
Training") in which they are basically being led to believe that they are
all racists and homophobes -- even if they've actually been raised by
their parents to respect all people regardless of color, orientation, etc.

It is clear to us that this parent or supporter was motivated by what he or she perceived as unfairness to
the Haddonfield lacrosse team based on a comparison of the Haddonfield event and the Snapchat video.
While we do not in anyway condone the players’ actions here, there is simply no moral equivalence
between the incident in the Snapchat video and the incident with the Haddonfield boys’ lacrosse team.
The lacrosse incident was plainly intended to offend, demean and make another person feel inferior
based on race, and the St Josephs’ incident clearly was not.

But, St Joseph’s can’t or won’t give you this side of the story. Instead, it has said something about being
a Catholic school where such language and conduct will not be tolerated, to which we totally agree. But
there is more to this story than is being reported or being commented on by the school which prompted
us to write this as parents of two current and one former St Joseph’s students and football players. We
whole-heartedly believe this has been an unfair portrayal of this incident and the St Joseph football
program as a whole.

First, I know the players in the video. They are good kids. It would be a shame for this ill-advised, but
not racist incident to negatively effect their futures. That said they have been punished with two game
suspensions and it unfortunately is what it is.
Second, the biggest injustice that we see is how this incident has been used to demean and to punish
Coach Sacco. Coach has coached St. Josephs for 38 years without an incident. His reputation and
integrity are beyond reproach. However, because he had left the team to be supervised by his wife
while he went out and scouted a future opponent, he is being derided as somehow complicit in the
creation of this 8 second video. We urge you all to think about that. Whether Coach was in the house
or not, it took all of 8 seconds to create that video. That is far less time than it would take for Coach
Sacco to leave the players presence to use the restroom. The implication that these kids were left
unsupervised is just flat wrong.

However, rather than handle this matter through the schools or the coaching staffs to give the school
and Coach Sacco the opportunity to mete out an appropriate punishment to those involved, and
knowing Coach Sacco significant punishment would have been forthcoming to these players, this
Haddonfield parent or supporter went to press and the press unfortunately ran with a story headlining
the alleged racial element of this incident.

The press like all of us have jobs to do and we are not faulting a single reporter or media outlet for
running with the story. Once the diocese and the NJSIAA got involved here it became a story. However,
we do criticize the lead that this was racially charged without digging into the information that we state
above, most of which has gone unreported. With all of this information out there we hope you see this
as we do and that this was not a racial incident. Instead, it was poor choices made by a couple kids who
I assure you wish that they had those 8 seconds of their life to do over.

We invite current and former St. Joseph’s families, alumni and former players to join us in voicing your
support for Coach Sacco and the St. Joes Wildcats.

Greg and Celeste Lomax


Proud parents of Derek, Brad and Chase Lomax.

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