Monday, January 26, 2009

What's Up With All The Discord?

Can't we all get along?

It seems the basketball season has been marred in recent weeks by fights, disturbances and a four-person shooting in Flint, a city already besieged with problems. It makes Rodney King's oft-quoted question ring prophetic, doesn't it?

The Detroit News reported today Detroit Community High Athletic Director Kevin Dargin accepted the resignation of basketball coach Tony Woods after Woods admitted to an altercation with another coach. Ferndale and Seaholm had to can the majority of the fourth quarter on January 9th after a non-student fight in the stands spilled onto the floor of a game already decided. Seaholm was declared the winner of a game they already led 69-46 with 6:45 to play in the fourth quarter. On January 13th, Detroit Cass Tech banned all fans except parents for their rivalry game with Detroit King due to concerns of possible violence that arose in the junior varsity game played earlier in the day.

That's the good news; Now the bad and ugly.Detroit Henry Ford, still suffering through a turf war and already struggling to ease tensions between the displaced students of now-closed Redford and Mackenzie, had a student shot and killed within eyesight of the school this past fall. Henry Ford has a proud football history but suffered the indignity of having to move home football games from Friday afternoons to Saturday mornings this past fall.

Outstate, Godwin Heights and Lee High will have to return to play the final 10 seconds after a fight ruined the potential finish of a game Godwin Heights was leading 71-68 on January 15th. Anthony Turley, 26, of Comstock pled guilty on January 16th to starting the fight that resulted in pepper spray being administered in the gym. The breathing problems from the spray resulted in the game's suspension.

Finally, four fans were shot on January 20th in the parking lot at Flint Beecher High last week after Beecher defeated Flint Hamady 53-50. Police have determined four different handguns were used in the Beecher High shooting. Beecher's school district garnered national headlines when Kayla Rolland, a six-year-old first-grader, was fatally shot in her classroom by a classmate in the winter of 2000 at Buell Elementary School. Buell has since closed.

This is not what school sports are about, that much we all know. Is it the tough economic conditions? Is this the societal structure breaking down in front of our eyes? Or is it simply kids being kids, parents not being parents and leaders being the all-too-silent objectors? Certainly the economic conditions are a factor in some of this but seriously, how much can we blame on the poor job market and endless unemployment lines?

I don't have all the answers but I think it's fair to say a fight here and there is not news. The seemingly recurring story of fights, violence and shootings at Michigan's prep sporting events is getting tiresome to read and makes me wonder how much worse can it get in Michigan before it gets better.

~T.C. Cameron is the author of Metro Detroit's High School Football Rivalries from Arcadia Publishing. Cameron's 2nd title, Metro Detroit's High School Basketball Rivalries, is due August of 2009

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