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Violent high school basketball fouls creating a stir in Washington [VIDEO]

Scott Levin's picture

The uncle of a player on the Highland High School boys basketball team captured stunning footage of brutal fouls, and the video is causing quite the uproar across the country.

Michael Christenson and other Highland fans watched in shock on Dec. 22 as multiple players on the Connell High School committed harsh fouls against Highland players. Both teams are located in the state of Washington -- Highland in Cowiche is part of the Highland School District while Connell is a member of the North Franklin School District.

Christenson filmed the incidents and posted the videotape to YouTube. The video has garnered over 33,000 views and more than 180 comments since that time.

In the video, particular players on Connell are caught delivering brutal hits to Highland players. Referees respond with simple foul calls, but no flagrant fouls, technicals or ejections are issued.

Officials in the school district are downplaying the incident, saying that similar activities go on in high schools across the country everyday.

"You could probably go through any person's game film and pull these same or similar incidents out," Steve Frucci, the district's athletic director told KVEW TV. "This just happened to be a person did that and posted it online."

Christenson isn't so sure. In an e-mail to KVEW TV, Christenson outlined his reasons for posting the video.

"I am happy that this video is getting a lot of attention, because I think the officiating in some of these high school games is appalling, and this video is getting people to talk about it. I also believe that if the video didn't contain any flagrant/controversial fouls--it never would have become popular, so that gives the video some credibility. I hope the WIAA will make some changes after seeing my video. The type of fouls that occurred in the Highland / Connell game cannot be allowed to continue, because someone will suffer a serious injury."

The video shows six instances where Christenson believes a flagrant foul should have been called against Connell.

In foul No. 1, a burly player for Connell (jersey No. 34) takes a swing at an airborne Highland player, sending him to the floor. Foul No. 2 shows a Connell player (No. 42) violently wrap up a Highland player from behind after a rebound.

In foul No. 3, jersey No. 34 makes another vicious swing at a driving Highland player, making no apparent play on the ball. Jersey No. 42 loses his cool in foul No. 4 after losing a loose ball and reacts by shoving a player without the ball.

Foul No. 5, perhaps the most egregious violation, shows jersey No. 34 yank down a Highland player in midair near the basket, sending him into a dangerous fall to the floor. The foul incites the crowd, who begin calling for referees to take further action. In foul No. 6, jersey No. 34 appears to club a player in the back of the head on a scrum near the basket.

The referees association for the area is reviewing the incident and has not yet released any findings regarding the officials in the game.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
Video Source: YouTube (wazzumichael)


Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
On foul #5 at 3:14-3:20 on the video one of the refs makes a comment to player 34, they both grin and the ref pats the player. I can pretty much guarantee that both of these players are also the school bullies. How can their coach and teammates be ok with this behavior? This is horrible!!!!

Saw that as well. No. 34 seems to be pretty happy with himself. Shocking that it was allowed to go on so long. Reminds me of the female college soccer player who was terrorizing opponents in a game a few years ago -- pulling hair, elbows, stomping players. Crazy.

Submitted by Michael Baldwin (not verified) on
Terrible officiating and coaching. The team and coach are behind these two players? Appalling and unacceptable. Get rid of the offending players, coach and officials... including permanent sanctions and/or fines, strip Connell of all wins for the year in which these players played, not allowing the players to play ANY sport, and not allowing Connell to compete for a few years in any sports, especially basketball. That might start to send an appropriate message in response to this unacceptable behavior. The coach needs to be fired, and prevented from ever coaching again (perhaps benefiting from some counseling as to what is and is not acceptable in high school or any type of sports). The officials need to be fired and never be allowed to officiate at any sport of any sort, perhaps even face disciplinary actions. The students from Connell need to be removed from the team, suspended, and turned over to juvenile authorities... because they appear to be incorrigible, and, the parents, at least one grandparent, the coach and school, seem to condone these actions by either promoting it or not doing something to stop it. This type of behavior is unacceptable, in any forum, let alone sports. The 7-year-old who is referenced as "looking up" to Venderbilt needs to have some counseling to understand that these types of actions are unacceptable, and there is nothing to look up to, except the actual height when standing. If the Connell players shown as offenders are 18 or older, then someone needs to treat him in the same manner in some parking lot or back alley, just to illustrate what it might feel like to have some of this dished out in return. Neither of these two students should be on the basketball court, any more than they should be put into a cage or ring with an MMA fighter. They aren't prepared for that type of MMA action, nor are the other team's players for these student's actions on the court. Kids need good role models, and there's something wrong if Vanderbilt is being touted as one. He's not. Far from it. That seven-year-old might need to have child protective services make a visit, because there might be even greater problems going on at home, if these actions are allowed on the HS court and the child is allowed to consider this thug as someone to endeavor to emulate as they grow up. I can't help but think that this type of collective ignorance has to in some way manifest itself in other ugly instances at home or in private, anger management issues, verbal and/or physical abuse, etc. The apple can't fall that far from the tree.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
Seriously, I only saw one flagrant foul, #5. The problem is, #34 just can't his weight off the floor, so he fouls everyone.

He does seem like clumsy kid, but I thought foul #1 was very close to flagrant. #3 is a flagrant foul -- no play on the ball. #5, like you said, was a no-doubt flagrant and given his prior fouls, should have been an ejection. The kid wasn't there to play basketball.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
1. The response to the clothesline foul by the referee and #34 are unacceptable in a civilized country. However...maybe they would prefer it not be civilized with rules. That is fine...put him on the streets of a 3rd world nation. If the referee wants to live in a place like all means. Don't have our people shed blood for them to be able to do this "$hit". That is unacceptable. 2. There were only truly 3 fouls that were "flagrant" in my opinion. Purposeful malicious intent would be my definition of flagrant. At the same time I have committed a flagrant foul as well. 3. The amount of fouls is the responsibility of the referee and he should lose his job for allowing it and even smiling about it, (or referee football). 4. Keep comments under control and understand that we make mistakes. The problem here is not calling a mistake a mistake. It is not about running someone out of town.

Submitted by paul (not verified) on
A flagrant foul in basketball does not have to have malicious intent behind it. A flagrant foul in basketball is an excessive foul or harsh foul. A player can even be called for a flagrant foul even if he is actually going for the ball. Learn the rules of basketball.

Submitted by Plutonium Worker (not verified) on
Your right he lacks the skills to play any type of move your feet defense. And yes #5 was a flagrant. Like I said earlier he lacks the emotional ability to control his temper.

Submitted by paul (not verified) on
Only a few were flagrant my butt. Apparently some of you don't watch basketball. Flagrant is not the same as intentional. Flagrant means excessive and all of these were flagrant. I guarantee you they would have called flagrant in college.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
The coach should be fired. To allow this type of behavior on the court is unacceptable. The referees should be fired, allowing this type of behavior on the court is unacceptable. Allow me to quote from the article....... "Officials in the school district are downplaying the incident, saying that similar activities go on in high schools across the country everyday." These officials in the school district should be fired, this type of behavior and statements from them are unacceptable. It is our responsibility as adults to make sure the welfare of the children playing sports is fair and violence free. I am a high school basketball coach here in Virginia, and these types of behaviors from the school district officials right on down to myself would never be allowed. It's time to "clean house" in that high school district, starting at the top.


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