The video is on YouTube, and at Preps Plus at www.journalgazette.net. Watch it for a quick lesson on how to make yourself, your team and your school look bad in front of the entire world.
The brawl began when a runner for South Side High School was tackled out of bounds by an Indianapolis Tech player during their football game at Tech on Friday. Tech was assessed a penalty, but players from both teams began to fight.
Several non-players appear to be engaged in separating the churning, shoving combatants, and things seem to have calmed for a moment when – WHAM! – a Tech assistant coach slugs a South Side assistant in the head. Then, as both coaches try to go at it, the players erupt again and the melee spills across the field.
After order was restored, the game ended with 1:41 left in the third quarter.
Tuesday, Indiana High School Athletic Association Commissioner Bobby Cox came down hard. The head coaches and some players from both teams were suspended for one game; two assistant coaches, South Sides Dan Muchler and Techs Angelo Muhammad, were suspended for the rest of the season; and both schools will be on probation through 2014.
South Side fans may feel that the heavy penalties should have been reserved for Tech, since it was one of the Indianapolis schools coaches who threw the first punch. But clearly, each side contributed something to the fight. You can blame anybody you like, Cox said, but thats not the issue. Placing blame doesnt solve anything to do with sportsmanship.
Suspending the head coaches, even though they werent part of the fight, also makes sense. Head coaches need to prepare their teams and especially their staffs to handle disruptions like this with honor and sportsmanship.
Its one thing for players, in the heat of competition, to momentarily lose self-control. Its quite another for adults to fly off the handle. Coaches are supposed to supervise those players, acting as role models and teaching about sportsmanship. When, instead, they become the center attraction of a free-for-all, serious penalties from the IHSAA are in order.
This has to be a learning experience, said FWCS Superintendent Wendy Robinson. As always, our job is to question What did the adults do? What could they have done to make it less of a situation?
(The penalty) could have been harsher. The fact that it wasnt recognizes there were a whole lot of circumstances that led to this.
Perhaps so, but nobody got a pass in this disturbing incident. Coxs swift, solomonic penalties were exactly the right response.