The high school students represented the Telfair County Trojans at a state single-A tennis championship in Rome, Georgia, May 12 and 13, where they lost to the Irwin County High School Indians, a team that Deadspin reports has several black members.
The photo was posted to Facebook and Snapchat and depicts several white members of the Trojans with white bags over their heads with eye holes cut out — a clear imitation of the white hoods worn by the white supremacist Ku Klux Klan, a group with a long history of violence against racial and other minorities, especially black people.
This is a Georgia high school Tennis team, posing as KKK members, after losing to a black team. They were apparently ‘Big Mad’ at the loss.— Jimmy, B.O.A. ✊🏾 (@jwheels74) May 17, 2018
Internet do y’all thing.. pic.twitter.com/hx3MTh7n6T
Sheena Wooten, a 10th grader at Telfair, told WMAZ that when she saw the photo, "I was like, 'What the world?' And I was trying to find out who was all on the tennis team because I didn't know who was all on the tennis team, so I was trying to find out — but it's crazy."
However, Wooten noted, "They're not racists, they're really cool people."
Telfair Superintendent Lenard Harrelson didn't agree, calling the photo "highly offensive." Harrelson said he was made aware of the photo May 15 and immediately began investigating, WGXA reported.
"The School District does not approve of this highly offensive behavior. An investigation was initiated and the students have received punishments accordingly," Harrelson told WGXA. He declined to elaborate on what punishment the students received.