What happened if there were a high school game and no students, fans or cheerleaders were able to attend?
That’s a tough question to ponder, but LHSAA Executive Director Eddie Bonine says it could happen very soon in Louisiana.
“This is not my first rodeo,” Bonine said. “Before I left Nevada — I think it was last February — we had a semifinal basketball game that was played at 3:30 in the afternoon without any fans or parents.
“A sportsmanship situation was the reason for it. I’m not afraid to go down that road again.”
Bonine’s statement came the day after the LHSAA released a video on YouTube that gave Bonine the chance to share his views on sportsmanship. It has been shared on social media and also can be found on the LHSAA website.
And no, this video is not aimed squarely at Amite High and District 7-3A rival Bogalusa High, the schools that grabbed headlines last week.
Bonine referenced a few other cases. His comments directed toward fans refer to an incident that happened last weekend at a girls basketball tournament in another part of the state.
Sanctions in that case are pending. Amite was ultimately removed from the Class 3A football semifinals in the aftermath of an altercation that led game officials to halt the quarterfinal between the two teams with less than two minutes left.
The Tangipahoa Parish School Board sought a restraining order to get Amite reinstated in the playoffs, but that petition was denied when a judge in the 19th Judicial District ruled he didn’t have the authority to change the LHSAA’s ruling.
One key fact in that case was that players from both teams reportedly left the bench, a violation that requires the players involved to sit out the next game regardless of whether the players in question were involved in the altercation or not.
Bonine said the sportsmanship hearing for the two schools is set for Dec. 17 at the LHSAA office. At that time, added suspensions and fines could be levied by an LHSAA sportsmanship committee.
Over the last week, I’ve cringed at each reference to either Amite or Bogalusa as “thugs.” My issue with that is there’s still too much we don’t know about what happened and why. And as Bonine noted, “All of us probably have something from our past we’re not proud of, but at the same time there have to be consequences.”
Granted, removal from the playoffs is a pretty high price to pay. But this could be a sign of things to come as Bonine and the LHSAA attempt to enforce the ideals laid out in the video.
And remember, this is about more than one or even two instances. Three or four days after the Amite-Bogalusa issues, a boys basketball game was halted in another part of the state because of a benches-clearing altercation. As a result, that game was ruled a no contest and both teams had to forfeit their next game.
Bonine notes that a midseason altercation between Peabody and Winnfield has been brought up by Amite supporters. Bonine said Wednesday that a sportsmanship hearing for those two schools led to fines and suspensions for seven players — four from one school and three from the other.
One critic of Bonine’s video noted that without being able to harass officials or players/coaches from the other team, there won’t be anything for fans to do.
Try cheering for your own team for a change. As my mother always said, if you can’t say something good, don’t say anything at all.
How did things ever get so crazy? I personally can’t say.
But it is time for some kind of change.
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