In such a socially advanced age, how is it that some are still stuck in the past? In Kissimmee, Florida on April 13, 2014, a 21-year-old man was kicked out of his recreation league for being HIV-positive. He revealed his status via YouTube in one of his rap songs entitled “My Best Friend.” The aspiring rapper shared his feeling to the world, and could not have forecast what would happen next. With so many laws against discrimination now, it is hard to believe that this still happens.
The young man, Dakota Basinger, was playing in the last game of the season with his recreation team when he got pulled aside. One of the city workers, Dale Boston, asked him if he was HIV positive. After Basinger confirmed he was, Boston gave him the boot. Not only was Basinger dismissed from the game he was kicked out of the rec league. The reasoning for this harsh decision was rooted in ignorance. Boston told Basinger that he did not want anyone to catch it.
The recreational facility stated that the individual who dismissed Basinger was acting independently. They continued by saying that corrective action has been taken. Apparently, this part-time employee had no direct authority to release this young man from the League. Boston has since resigned from his city position with the bad press surrounding this story.
Kissimmee Park, Recreation and Public facilities have since formally apologized. They have also offered Basinger a spot on the team or any other of the leagues teams. However, Basinger declined their offer stating. “They could apologize as much as they want but the humiliation I had to go through, I’m already going through enough being diagnosed last week.”
The humiliation that Basinger is referring to is something that he will not forget. How does someone get over the ref calling a time out so someone can pull him out of the game? It is not as though his medical condition was directly contagious, or debilitating. Basinger could still compete but he was just not given that opportunity, because Dale Boston saw fit to do his civic duty. Somehow, Boston misunderstood the clear direction to leave Basinger alone. Keeping him in the game would not have done any harm to the other players or staff.
HIV is a disease that cannot be spread through sweat, saliva, tears, or close human contact. In other words, there is no way anyone could catch it from playing with Basinger. In fact, there are multiple ways one can contract this disease, so it is really important that people to get educated. If Boston was clear about the ways one can contract HIV, this could have been prevented. Furthermore, this young man could have been spared the humiliation of being kicked out of his rec league. Studies show that approximately 2,425 people Basinger’s age are living with this illness. The numbers are continuing to grow every year. Nevertheless, the one thing that does not have to rise with those staggering numbers is ignorance. The Basinger family is moving forward with this situation, and consulting with an attorney. They plan to sue the state and the city, and give any winnings to HIV/AIDS awareness programs.
By: Schelett Rickenbacker