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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Football and Friday Night Fights

Our District had an incident a couple of weeks ago in which two of our high school football teams got in a shoving match after the game while they were lined up to shake hands. Seems crazy doesn't it. The game was over and this was the time designated by adults to show good sportsmanship. But these are teenagers.

 The news media made hay of the incident. The high school league wanted to see video and call the schools on the carpet, and the schools wanted to "do what was right", to punish the guilty and move on with the season. One of the principals wrote a letter to the paper explaining how this was a 'teachable' moment. Which is what it indeed was. The school board was not involved, nor should they be.

At least one of the school newspapers took the local media to task for making a big event out of a small one and for slanting what happened. I can understand their reaction but am not convinced either claim is true.

The schools have played more games without incident. They did skip the end of game hand shake and will probably do so for the rest of the year.  So, can adults make this a 'teachable' moment?
  • Did the High School League review the game film to see how the officiating was? Did they review if the officials have had other games that involved fights? There is no evidence this was a problem, but we all know that poor officiating can lead to fights. 
  • Is video evidence really conclusive? Should you base all your decisions on the video?  Does intent, or lack thereof, count for anything?
  • Is school suspension the appropriate punishment for an incident  during a contact sport.  The coach has many more, and effective tools to work with than a school suspension.
  • And what about pre-game and post-game rituals? Do these need to be reviewed and modified?

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