Monday, May 22, 2006

Basketball Fight

A lot has been made out of an incident at an amateur basketball game Sunday night in Tyler. Police were called to the scene, and an assault charge was filed. It sounds pretty bad, right? I've heard it referred to as a "brawl". Well, anytime police are called to handle a situation and kids are involved, it's unfortunate. But, I don't want to lose sight of the big picture on this one. Yes, an incident happened, and yes, police are involved. But no, it wasn't a brawl. It was two boys allegedly fighting, with a third allegedly caught in the middle.

According to officer Donald Martin of the Tyler Police Department, the incident was reported as a large disturbance. The officers on the scene said it was "a few kids fighting." The parents of a 13-year-old from Athens, and a 13-year-old from Tyler decided to press charges against a 14-year-old from Shreveport, who allegedly started the incident. The 14-year-old is currently charged with assault. The case has been assigned to a juvenile detective, who Officer Martin said, could reduce the charge to disorderly conduct, if the case even goes forward at all.

The incident happened during the championship game of the boys 13-under division of the East Texas Shootout. It's an independent tournament not affiliated with TISD in any way, featuring boys and girls ranging in age from about 10 to 18. The suspect played for the Louisiana Roundballers, who registered for the tournament under the name Xtreme. The victims played for a team out of Athens called The East Texas All-Stars.

I talked with the tournament director, Dahlia McCain, today about the incident. She said it was unfortunate, and hopes it doesn't give a good tournament a bad name. She told me she has been hosting this tournament for 10 years as a way to help give kids, who otherwise may not be able to afford it, a way to develop their basketball skills. She told me there were over 200 games played this weekend at eight different sites, with no other incidents of violence. She said they are not affiliated with any national organization, and have to raise all the money to host this tournament themselves. She's hoping the split second poor judgment by a few teenagers doesn't undermine a decades worth of effort.

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