Nine Upper Arlington High School senior football players will not be on the field Friday night after district officials said they violated the student code of conduct by making inappropriate hand gestures in a team picture.
The picture appeared on a team poster that was posted inside city businesses, 10TV's Tanisha Mallett reported.
The posters are common among high school sports teams and are usually distributed to businesses by parents or booster clubs.
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10TV obtained a copy of the picture showing the football players. Nine of them can be seen posing with the sexual hand gesture, Mallett reported.
Michelle Botomogno said her older brother plays on Upper Arlington's football team, but was not one of the players who made the gesture.
"It has happened before and there has never really been a big deal about it," Botomogno said.
Some businesses in Upper Arlington, like Alfred's Family Hair Care, post many of the athletic posters. People there said they never noticed anything out of the ordinary.
"A bunch of people walked by, mostly kids, pointing and looking and I just assumed they were looking at some of the people they knew on the team," said store owner Tom Capuano.
The picture did eventually catch the attention of high school administrators. Principal Kip Greenhill said the nine student-athletes have been suspended from playing in Friday night's game.
"These are really good kids who made a bad decision and I don't think that there was intent at all," Greenhill said. "They didn't understand how offensive it could become."
Botomogno said the punishment has been felt by the entire team, including her brother.
"He's pretty bummed about it," she said. "The seniors, this is their last season and he wishes they could all play this Friday."
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