It was a disappointing end to a prep playoff football game Nov. 5 between La Grande and Gladstone.

La Grande won the first-round playoff game but a display between the Gladstone coach and officials — that eventually developed into Gladstone fans entering the argument — postponed the contest for at least five minutes and led to the visiting team walking off after the game without shaking hands with the Tigers.

The Oregonian published a story Nov. 11 outlining allegations from Gladstone players that members of the Tigers launched racial slurs throughout the game. The allegations are extremely serious and deserve the full attention of both school districts and the Oregon School Activities Association.

The good news, if there can be good news in such an unseemly situation, is the school districts involved and the OSAA appear to be addressing the issue.

Unfortunately, there is no way to avoid a full investigation into the allegations. Unfortunate because a prep playoff football game should be a place for fair, competitive play where, at the end, both teams can shake hands and walk off the field with the knowledge they played hard.

Yet everyone — the school districts, the OSAA, parents and players — should refrain as much as possible from a rush to judgment.

Allegations have been made and they deserve to be investigated. Yet, allegations are not proof. For proof, an investigation must be conducted in a fair and methodical manner. Essentially, officials need to get to the bottom of the allegations, decide whether they have merit and then act accordingly.

Acting accordingly may mean the dismissal of some of the allegations. Acting accordingly, if the allegations prove to be true, may result in some type of sanction.

The important piece of this incident is a fair, due process probe. Rushing to judgment or vilifying anyone on either side — from coaches to players to fans — isn’t going to solve anything and likely would make the situation far worse.

We hope that the allegations prove to be untrue. But the assertions must be followed up on and the truth uncovered.

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