Latest basketball brawl raises concerns over sports safety

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LAWRENCE, Ind. (March 4, 2015) - A 14-year-old boy is charged with criminal battery after police say he started a brawl at a middle school basketball game. The fight at the Andrew J. Brown Academy took place Tuesday night at around 7:30 p.m., according to police, and it is the latest in a string of violence taking place at youth sporting events in the area.

“We’ve had unfortunately several instances here recently where adults have really failed children,” said Bobby Cox, the Commissioner of the Indiana High School Athletics Association (IHSAA).

Video of a massive brawl that took place when the Griffith Panthers hosted the Hammond Wildcats on February 7, points to sportsmanship seemingly, long gone at schools’ sporting events.

The latest incident at the Andrew J. Brown Academy started when police say a post-game handshake turned into a punch.

“There’s a lot of emotion that brews and unfortunately we have to be the ones to deflate that emotion and make sure that cooler heads prevail,” said James Hill, Principal of Andrew J. Brown Academy.

Police said parents fled from the stands Tuesday night and created further chaos on the court.

“This is not the arena to be conducting ourselves in that manner,” said Cox.

Cox places blame for these gymnasium brawls on parents who are too fired up, and end up lashing out. He says they ultimately start violent behavior in the stands.

"We need to remember that proper sportsmanship is important and that at the end of the day, these activities are for kids and they are for fun,” he said.

Cox says building sportsmanship not only on the court, but at home has got to be a priority; parents he says can prevent kids from falling too far.

“To bring those behaviors into a scholastic setting, it’s simply unacceptable,” said Cox.

There were initial reports that a gun was involved at Tuesday’s fight. IMPD said there was no weapon found during their investigation.

The IHSAA is looking at potential changes that can be implemented statewide to cut back on the frequency of these fights.


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