(Feb. 10, 2015) –The boys basketball season is cancelled for two schools involved in a massive brawl at a high school game. It happened Saturday night when the Griffith Panthers hosted the Hammond Wildcats. Players and parents ran onto the court and started throwing punches after a player was pushed into the wall.
“This incident was severe, it was dangerous, and it needs a proper reaction,” said IHSAA Commissioner Bobby Cox.
IHSAA issued penalties for both teams today: The boys basketball season is canceled for both schools, including the state tournament. Sectional 17 will be redesigned as a five-team tournament. For all away varsity games, both schools will pay a $500 fee to the host school on their remaining schedules. Both teams are on probation for the entire 2015 – 2016 school year, but first, players and coaches will have to complete a sportsmanship course.
“We’ve had bench clearing incidents unfortunately in other games, but nothing to this extent,” Cox said. “The intensity with which these events have occurred, however infrequently they do… it’s increasing. I have a grave concern that there’s going to be an incident someday where someone is going to be catastrophically injured or perhaps killed."
Cox says in some cases, like this one, social media is also contributing to tension before games.
“I do think there’s a component of social media that’s involved in this,” he said.
Hammond High School Athletic director echoed that concern as part of a statement he gave FOX59 on the phone, saying this:
"It’s like a ton of bricks hit us today. The tough thing about this situation is, there was never any animosity between the schools. It was an isolated incident. Unfortunately, sometimes kids make these decisions and sometimes social media gets the best of these kids. It’s devastating, and that behavior is not acceptable at Hammond high school."
Larry Moore Sr., Athletic Director at Hammond High School
The Superintendent of Griffith Public Schools says their administration supports today’s decision, adding this:
“We are committed to moving forward in a positive direction, and will work together on positive sportsmanship for all students.”
Dr. Peter Morikis, Superintendent of Griffith Public Schools
“We need to remember that this is education based athletics, and there are expectations from all our member schools and all 160 thousand of our student athletes who participate, that we will conduct ourselves with dignity, with respect and with respect to the game and the rules… and in this case, that was violated dramatically. So we’re going to hope that we all move forward and we revisit proper sportsmanship,” Cox said.
Additional penalties have been left up to the schools. Some players have been suspended.
Video courtesy Times of Northwest Indiana