College sports, mainly football, breeds levels of fandom that can vary from casual, passionate and even ravenous. Apparently, for some Florida State Seminoles supporters, there’s a new final form for team loyalty – racism.
A racist Seminoles fan, Thomas Shand, took to an FSU fan supported Facebook group and posted a flagrant and outright disturbing message in response to head coach Willie Taggart’s blowout loss to rival Florida.
FSU fan Thomas Shand posted this about Willie Taggart. Losing 7 football games didn’t turn him into a racist. His true colors came out. @HiltonGrandVac
No one likes to see their team being disrespected up and down the field but to call for the hanging, joke about the hanging or even imply hanging the first Black head coach of your football squad is absolutely disgusting. It’s a snapshot of the racist abuse that both Black student-athletes and Black coaching staffs face on the regular at predominantly white colleges and universities.
After Shand was outed via social media, it was revealed that FSU police were investigating the threat against Taggart.
1/2 A recent racist social media post aimed at our football coach is ignorant and despicable. I speak for the entire FSU community in expressing our disgust and extreme disappointment, and I am glad the state attorney is investigating.
Second Judicial Circuit State Attorney Jack Campbell announced that his office had opened an investigation.
“It’s hard for me to prosecute a Facebook post,” said Campbell. “That’s why we’re working with our law enforcement partners to find out what the true facts are. Then I can make a determination of what charges are appropriate.”
According to Campbell, his office will have to determine where the post originated and what venue the prosecution would be conducted in.
“Any threat of violence to anybody in this community – he’s a father, a husband and a member of our community – we’re going to investigate it to the fullest extent possible.”
This evening, Hilton Grand Vacations, who employed Thomas Shand, announced that he had been fired.
“Our concern regarding this situation has been a top priority,” said Lauren George, a spokeswoman for Hilton Grand Vacations. “The person responsible for posting this information has been terminated. His behavior was in violation of multiple company policies and the furthest example from being a reflection of our company’s values.”
Florida State University President John Thrasher immediately issued a statement when informed of the incident.
“A recent racist social media post aimed at our football coach is ignorant and despicable,” Thrasher said in a Twitter statement.
“I speak for the entire FSU community in expressing our disgust and extreme disappointment, and I am glad the state attorney is investigating. Coach Taggart has our full support and as true Seminoles know, he is a respected member of the FSU family.”
It’s another example of how race and sports intersect. And yes, just in case you were wondering, it’s also another example of why they kneel.