PIKEVILLE, Ky. (AP) – A high school basketball team has voted to boycott a game against an opposing team that waves the Confederate flag, adding fuel to a debate over what is appropriate behavior at sporting events.

The team of eight male players, including one black student, at the private David School in Floyd County unanimously decided this week to boycott a Jan. 19 game against Allen Central High School, said Ned Pillersdorf, the David School’s athletic director and boys’ basketball coach.

The players believe Allen Central’s displays of Confederate emblems are a form of taunting, which is forbidden by the Kentucky High School Athletic Association, Pillersdorf, also an attorney, said Thursday.

Especially upsetting to the David School’s team, Pillersdorf said, was when a black player was up for a foul shot and “they were waving the Confederate flag at him.”

Pillersdorf sent a letter to Allen Central officials, stating in part, “David has the only basketball team with black players in Floyd County, we want to assure you that the decision was made by all of our players.”

Allen Central Principal Lorena Hall and her students have defended their Confederate emblems, saying they symbolize strength, independence and pride.

“It has nothing to do with racism,” Hall said in a recent interview with The Associated Press. “It’s a part of us.” She declined to comment Thursday.

Floyd County Superintendent Paul Fanning said he has forwarded the issue to the state athletic association.

Brigid DeVries, association commissioner, was out of town Thursday and could not be reached for comment. Other association officials declined to comment.

David is the only school that has pulled out of a competition against Allen Central, Fanning said. The school board will discuss the issue in January.

It was unclear whether the David School would have to forfeit the game.

Members of Louisville’s Justice Resource Center had expressed concerns to Fanning on Monday over Allen Central’s prominent displays of the Confederate flag at the school and public events.

The Rev. Louis Coleman, head of the civil rights group, suggested giving nearby schools with black students the option of not participating in events where Confederate symbols are displayed, saying the flag creates “a very tense and negative atmosphere” for black student athletes.

AP-ES-12-21-06 2219EST

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