Since California high school football for the fall 2020 season was cancelled because of the pandemic, and the spring season looked doubtful, Carla and Steven Lenhoff allowed their son Lucas to search for options that would allow him to play. After a thorough search, he settled on Charlotte, NC, and last year his parents moved from California to Charlotte where he enrolled in Myers Park High School, along with 10 other students from California, Texas, and Georgia who came with his family. Carla and Steven rented 3 houses in the Myers Park district to house the players, and Steven bristles at the suggestion that his wife and he brought ringers to Charlotte: “What upsets me is people say we brought a bunch of ringers out here. Well, outside of one kid—and Lucas was probably the most well-known—besides the color of their skin, how were they ringers in football? A lot of kids didn’t even play. They hadn’t played varsity.”
When a Myers Park parent notified the school, Dr. Robert Folk investigated the possibility of ineligible players being on the football team, and after the inquiry he self-reported one of the oldest and largest high schools in NC. The school forfeited all of its games for the 2021 season and since their arrival, some of the students who arrived with the Lenhoffs have left Charlotte which causes Carla Lenhoff to observe, “What happened with all the kids is the most disappointing part off this because I feel like I failed. I would’ve loved to watch all of them graduate together. Its’s disappointing and this is not about football, and I think people don’t’ get that. These kids have been together a long time.”
Words matter because they reveal how the speaker thinks. If we examine the above quotation of Steven Lenhoff, we hear a white man defending his bringing of 10 Black youngsters to Myers Park by explaining that “besides (italics mine) the color of their skin” how else would we see them as ringers. Thus, Steven Lenhoff wants us to think that only Black players can be ringers or exceptional players, but he apologizes for the ones who did not play or make the varsity team. Is there subtle racism being expressed in his words or is he speaking for us?
Carla Lenhoff wants us to believe that her family move across the United States is not about football, but her son, husband, and she move so that Lucas can play a season of football and be recruited by a college. It seems that the Lenhoffs brought other players at the family’s expense to join the team. But, Carla Lenhoff tells us …this is not about football.”
The Lenhoffs have the means to help children, and they seem to have done so in a fashion. However, to move across the country so that even one child can play football is mis-guided. It teaches horrible lessons such as football is most important; if one is wealthy enough he or she can buy anything; and that rules are inconveniences that can be circumvented. Those lessons, and others, the Lenhoffs have willingly taught their son and other children. That is shameful.
If the Lenhoffs want to help, there are many charities that will accept their monies without harming children.