The senior powder-puff football team from Sullivan High School in Missouri has been causing outrage on social media after images emerged of the entire 12-person team in black face paint.
The photos of the team, taken during a game last week, began causing controversy on local Facebook networks and were picked up by the Riverfront Times. Principal Jennifer Schmidt told them the blackface was the result of a mix-up.
Schmidt adds that it's been common practice for the senior girls' team to wear face paint during the powder-puff football tournament, essentially as a parody of the eye black football players normally wear to decrease glare from the sun and lights. The face paint also serves to "to intimidate the underclassmen."
According to Schmidt, in previous years the girls have wore combinations of the school's colors — black and gold. But when the senior girls arrived prior to the November 5 game, they discovered everyone had brought the same color face paint — black.
Schmidt gave a similar comment to the St. Louis Dispatch, explaining that the blackface was not intentional.
Principal Jennifer Schmidt said in a phone interview Wednesday that she saw the face paint when the seniors went out on the field.
"I thought, 'Oh my gosh,'" Schmidt said. "I knew they didn't mean anything by it, but, in hindsight, I should have made them wash it off and move on."
Photos of the game were also posted on the Twitter account for the school's athletics department. Schmidt told the Riverfront Times the photos were taken at a distance to obscure the face paint.
The controversy around the photos was severe enough, however, that Schmidt and an assistant principal sat down the morning after the game and changed the rules for powder-puff, banning face paint from future games.
Ryan Broderick is a senior reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York City.