MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Friday nights are celebrated by students across the country. Supporting the local high school sporting events is a part of the custom.
However, last week’s events were not what school district officials in Memphis were hoping for in terms of school pride.
Three large fights broke out near the end of three different high school basketball games across Memphis on the same night.
Now, the pressure is on Shelby County Schools to find a solution to stopping fights from happening at basketball games.
On Friday, Jan. 25, massive fights either ended or came up following the end of three basketball games at local high schools.
Each fight brought with it a unique set of circumstances, ejections and videos recording what went down.
The fights happened at the following games Friday night:
- Sheffield High School at Overton High School (varsity girls’ basketball)
- Fairley High School at Westwood High School (varsity boys’ basketball)
- Wooddale High School at Melrose High School (varsity boys’ basketball)
The Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association (TSSAA) released reports from all three games.
SHEFFIELD VS OVERTON
The first brawl that grabbed the attention of social media and now investigators happened at Overton High School.
According to the referees’ report, the incident happened with just over four minutes left in the game with Overton leading, 56-39.
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After a jump ball, one of the girls kicked the other before it turned into a fist fight. Officials said all 10 players in the game began participating in the fight.
All seven of Sheffield’s substitutes left the bench and participated in the fight, while Overton’s three subs remained on the bench.
Officials said at least five fans joined the fight as well.
Sheffield’s entire team was ejected, while five of Overton’s players were ejected. The game had to end at that point.
FAIRLEY VS WESTWOOD
The largest brawl happened at Westwood High School, and it was after the game had already ended.
As both teams met at half-court to shake hands after the game, officials said two players from opposing teams exchanged words and “squared up to fight.”
A Fairley coach jumped in to break up the potential fight, but at that point, officials said fans from the bleachers ran onto the floor and the benches cleared.
Dozens of people – including players, fans, police officers, referees, parents and administrators – participated in the massive brawl.
The fighting happened in “several areas of the court and security officers were being hit from fans as well,” according to officials.
Officials pointed out nothing during the game that they were aware of happened that could have warranted the brawl afterwards.
WOODDALE VS MELROSE
With just over a minute remaining in the game, a hard foul and technical led to another fight at Melrose High School.
As the player was heading to the foul line, another player handed him the ball as a technical foul was being called.
Officials said at that point, that player retaliated by hitting the other player in the back of the head with the ball.
A Wooddale player then grabbed the ball and threw it at another player for hitting his teammate, and the two started fist-fighting.
Fans stormed the floor from both sides and the benches cleared.
Officials said the fight became “uncontrollable,” so police officers Maced the crowd.
They attempted to finish the game, but team officials said multiple players couldn’t play because they had Mace in their eyes.
Parents are worried that fights at these games are the new normal.
“These kids don’t have repercussion, so why would they behave? They have to have an incentive to behave and they don’t have any incentives,” said Esther Ewing, a parent of a Melrose student.
Ewing and other parents told FOX13 they want more action from SCS officials.
“I believe when they take discipline and prayer out of school this is what you get – uncivilized, unruly children,” said Ewing. “They don’t let parents discipline, you don’t let school discipline and here you have it they not scared of nothing.”
FOX13 is waiting to find out how officials are going to handle the punishments.
SCS officials released the following statements on their website following the incidents:
"As Chief of Schools, I am extremely concerned about the incidents that occurred last weekend at several basketball games. This is certainly not the norm for SCS athletic events, and we are treating these situations very seriously. Our sports teams are a tremendous source of pride for our schools and communities, and we expect our student athletes, coaches and everyone in attendance to always exemplify high character, strong sportsmanship and appropriate conduct. Superintendent Ray has directed us to review all security and supervision procedures to ensure safety and order at all future athletic events." - Dr. Angela Whitelaw, Chief of Schools
"As Chief of Safety & Security, I’ve instructed our officers, as well as school administrators, coaches, athletic officials and partnering law enforcement agencies, to enforce the code of conduct strictly and take necessary steps to address any disturbances or safety concerns at our events. Athletics are a privilege, not a right, and we absolutely will not tolerate the types of actions that occurred over the weekend. If it’s necessary to cancel games or close them off to the public to ensure safety and order, we definitely will do that." - Gerald Darling, Chief of Safety & Security
"If we want to continue to celebrate the strong sports traditions in our schools and communities and give our students the opportunity to compete and represent their schools, it’s important for all of us to put safety first and be responsible in our actions." - Dr. Angela Whitelaw, Chief of Schools
The TSSAA said once punishments are decided, they can add or reduce punishments made by the schools.
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