A racial slur being used against one of our local student-athletes at a high school basketball game is appalling, and as a community, we must stand together in declaring bigotry will not be tolerated in our schools.

As today's front-page story recounts, the Prairie City boys basketball team had to overcome more than the talent of the opposing team in the district championship game when one of Crane's players used a derogatory word.

And not just any word. Filled with hatred, the N-word seeks to strip the humanity from the people it describes, to return to a time when some people were treated as property.

The comment came after two athletes landed on each other during what had already been a heated game, as Prairie City's players pointed out.

While it's true people may say things they do not mean when in pain or in a tense situation, when the knee-jerk reaction is a hate-filled response, it points to an underlying attitude as part of the problem.

It's sad enough that bigotry survives under a rock here and there, but it's downright depressing that our students have to endure it in 2019.

So many years after the civil rights movement, after countless contributions by black people to our communities, our country and, it should go without saying, to basketball, it's sad that something like this occurs at a high school sports contest.

Such hateful comments are truly out of place when we're trying to teach our young people positive values such as dedication, teamwork and sportsmanship.

We commend Prairie City and Crane school officials for making positive progress by communicating to address the situation, leading to disciplinary action for the offending student.

Now, it comes down to all of us — parents, teachers, coaches, community members — to ensure the positive progress continues, to make it known that we will not tolerate bigotry in our schools.

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