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Bloomfield Hills player allowed to play in final football game following 'hurtful' comment

  • Bloomfield Hills senior Jay Cooke (center, No. 10) will be allowed to play in the Black Hawks' final game of the season tonight against Rochester Adams. He was initially suspended from the game after making an alleged "Hurtful" remark at a boys soccer game earlier this week. (MIPrepZone file photo)
  • Bloomfield Hills High School officials had initially suspended senior wide receiver Jay Cooke (10) for making a "Hurtful" comment during his school's boys soccer game against Southfield-Lathrup. Since then, he has apologized and been re-instated for tonight's game against Rochester Adams. (MIPrepZone file photo)
  • Student and community support for Bloomfield Hills senior football player Jay Cooke has been far and wide after he allegedly made a "Hurtful" comment toward a Southfield-Lathrup soccer player in a state playoff game earlier this week. (MIPrepZone file photo)

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A Bloomfield Hills senior was permitted to play in the final football game of his high school career Friday night, despite receiving disciplinary action from school administrators following a “hurtful” comment he made toward a student-athlete from an opposing school.

A Change.org petition demanded Jay Cooke be allowed to play the regular-season finale for the 1-7 Black Hawks, who will not be making the playoffs.

According to the petition, Cooke made the statement toward a soccer player from Southfield-Lathrup High School while in attendance at a playoff match Tuesday, Oct. 20.

When a player from the opposing team went down with a leg cramp, Cooke said “get that boy a banana” — in reference to the fruit being a source of Potassium commonly used to alleviate cramps, according to the petition’s creator, Noah Nathan.

A school administrator in attendance interpreted the comment as a racial taunt, the petition said.

Cooke was originally prohibited from playing in Friday’s game and from attending any school-sponsored sporting events for the remainder of the academic year. The punishment followed standard district procedures, according to school officials.

A subsequent appeal afforded to Cooke through district policy and held Friday led to the reduced penalty, according to a district statement.

“Over the past few days, students in our district engaged heavily in a social media effort to bring attention to this incident and request a change in the consequences issued to the student,” the statement read.

“Though we are not able to discuss the specifics of the decision, for reasons of student privacy, the Bloomfield Hills Schools administrative team feels confident that the process provided an opportunity to arrive at a decision we feel comfortable with.”

Cooke expressed remorse online in apologizing for his comments, saying he said was misunderstood.

“I would like to sincerely apologize for my remarks at the soccer game the other night,” Cooke said on the change.org page. “In no way was it meant to be racist or condescending. However, I realize that my words were hurtful and I cannot express how sorry I am that it was seen this way.”

Bloomfield Hills head coach Dan Loria was asked after Friday's game if there was any hesitation putting Cooke in the lineup.

“I was always in support that they investigate the situation," he said. "Jay’s a class act. With the apology, he’s just a terrific kid.”

Asked if the situation was a misunderstanding, Loria said: “Yes and we talked about the unsportsman part of it and that can’t happen. He knows.”

On Friday afternoon, the petition was about 300 signatures short of its 2,500 goal.

A Bloomfield Hills School District representative confirmed disciplinary action had been taken against Cooke, who made a comment which “was hurtful to players of the opposing team.”

Cooke said online that although he was allowed to participate in Friday’s game, he will instead be serving “in-school detention and will not be allowed to attend any fall sporting events” for the remainder of the season.

“In no way should this be a celebration,” Cooke said. “(The game) is not about me, but rather the entire program as a whole.”

Bloomfield Hills hosted Rochester Adams and finished the season on the short end of a 50-0 score.

Last Updated: 10/23/2015 11:30:28 PM EST


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