School president 'not happy' about crosses coming off Messmer-Shorewood football helmets

CREATED Oct 10, 2012 - UPDATED: Oct 10, 2012

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MILWAUKEE - The president of a Catholic school in Milwaukee says he'll reluctantly agree to the removal of a cross from the helmets of the football team his school shares with a public school. 

"We are not happy about it," Br. Bob Smith, who runs Messmer Catholic Schools, told Newsradio 620 WTMJ's Jay Sorgi.

For 11 years, Messmer High School and Shorewood High School have partnered together on a combined football team.

A parent complained to Shorewood about a cross that's on the team's helmet.

It is part of a logo designed by a Shorewood High student and approved by Shorewood High.

After the complaint came in, the school board voted that the cross has to come off.

"It's clearly a Christian cross," board member Michael Mishlove told

"I think it's inappropriate to have on a uniform or any sort of school authorized clothing, as I think it could be viewed as an endorsement."

Br. Smith says the decision "is hurtful for the kids.  It's going to be hurtful for the kid who designed the's going to be hurtful for the team."

He said only once before in the team's 11-year history has someone brought up an issue about anything religious with the public-private partnership.

It came about as an agreement to combine the teams of the team from Shorewood High, a suburban, public school, and Messmer, a Catholic school with mainly central-city, minority students.

Their story has brought on national attention.

"You honestly don't see problems with racism, economic difference...once those kids put a helmet on, you don't know which kid goes to which school.  You couldn't have scripted it better."

He claimed that any sort of religious activity on the team specifically came from students, and was not demanded by any authority figure connected with the team.

"The kids themselves, over all these years...have begun with a prayer, on their own, when they're in the locker room," explained Br. Smith.  "Nobody has forced kids to do anything."

Newsradio 620 WTMJ has reached out to members of the Shorewood school board for further comment.