From the video, this much is certain: With a New Britain player at the foul line, Wilton student fans in the bleachers behind the basket begin to chant.
Undetermined is exactly what the students were chanting. Was it a disgusting racial taunt? Or was it an inappropriate, but more benign insult directed at a specific player?
“Please listen to what Wilton High School’s student section chanted to our team,” writes a New Britain teacher above a 16-second video posted on his Twitter account and forwarded to Hearst Connecticut Media and other outlets.
In the clip, a New Britain player is preparing to shoot free throws near the end of the first half during last Friday night’s Division II boys basketball state tournament quarterfinal game at Wilton High. As the referee bounces the New Britain player the ball, the Wilton students start a chant that is audible but unclear.
— Mr. Zayas (@Mr_Zayas_Nbhs) March 11, 2019
At halftime, New Britain’s players told their coaches that the Wilton students were chanting “Black Face,” according to New Britain Athletic Director Len Corto. Corto — who was at the game but said he was unable to decipher what the Wilton fans were chanting — then talked with Wilton High Athletic Director Chris McDougal.
“Chris didn’t hear exactly what was being chanted, either,” Corto said. “But he put a bunch of staff by that bleacher in the second half and the chant stopped.”
New Britain school officials sent the video to their Wilton counterparts Sunday, and McDougal spent time Monday interviewing students.
“We called in several kids who were at the game and asked for their help in finding out what was being chanted,” McDougal said. “We didn’t tell them about the video or what it was alleged that they had said. All of them told us the chant was ‘Leg Days’ and aimed at a New Britain player who had thin legs. The chant was referring to not missing leg workout days at the gym.
“It was still incredibly rude and immature,” McDougal added. “But I have no reason to believe they were lying about what was chanted. They had no idea what we were looking for.”
According to McDougal, administrators from both schools talked Monday to discuss the incident. McDougal said Wilton officials were writing a letter of apology that they would send to New Britain administrators Tuesday.
It will be Wilton’s second apology in less than three years. During a football game with Danbury in 2016, Wilton students were accused of chanting “build the wall” — a reference to President Donald Trump’s campaign promise to build a wall along the southern U.S. border with Mexico — toward Danbury fans.
That apology followed a letter from Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton to Wilton High School Principal Robert O’Donnell, according to a story in the News-Times. “I respectfully request a formal apology to our student body and to our community at large,” Boughton wrote in the letter.
Hearst Connecticut reached out to both Wilton superintendent Kevin Smith and New Britain superintendent Nancy Sarra seeking comment. Phone calls were not returned prior to deadline.