On the internet, "u mad, bro?" (and its earlier cousin "you mad?") is a classic meme deployed to maximize the rage-inducing effects of trolling. In real life—where people are somewhat less familiar with the trollface oeuvre—it can be taken a little differently.

As a group of high schoolers in Ohio found out this weekend. After unveiling a huge banner reading "YOU [sic] MAD BRO," during a game against Painesville Harvey, students at Kirtland High found themselves accused of "racial intimidation" by the president of the Lake County chapter of the NAACP:

"At the conclusion of the game, some of their students and parents put up a sign that we believe was racial intimidation, ethnic intimidation," said Roderick Coffee, president of the Lake County chapter of the NAACP, who was also at the game.

"For them to put it up there that was bad sportsmanship, too," Painesville Harvey football player, Jerome Becks said.

[...]

"I think the reference to 'bro' in the sign definitely has a racial connection to it," said Michael Hanlon, superintendent for Painesville City Schools.

The meme—kind of the internet equivalent of telling someone who is just barely controlling his anger to "calm down"—likely has its specific roots in the greatest episode of The O'Reilly Factor of all time, in which rapper Cam'ron relentlessly clowns Bill (see video left), and it seems unlikely that the Kirtland students intended racial animus in the sign, though, high school students being racist? Stranger things have happened! (The kids will likely get punished anyway, for "lack of sportsmanship," or something.)

That being said, there is a valuable lesson here, which is to never, ever bring your internet memes out of the computer and into IRL, partly because they might be misunderstood but mostly because it's really embarrassing.

[WJW-TV via Reddit]