Should the Texas High School Football Team Whose Player Body-Slammed a Ref Be Removed From the Playoffs?

A recent viral video on social media showed a Texas high school football player hitting a referee. This was shocking and controversial for obvious reasons. It led to outrage online, along with a debate over what should happen to the young man who hit the official. So what happened during the incident, and what will the fallout be? Let’s look at this unfortunate event and how it all went down. 

The incident in question

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CBS Sports reported on the incident that took Twitter by storm last week. The incident occurred during a Texas high school football game held on a Thursday evening. The game was a contest between Edinburg High and Pharr-San Juan Alamo. The offending player played for Edinburg. 

The referees disqualified the player. Rather than report to the locker room, the athlete returned to the field. Before he could be restrained, the player essentially bodyslammed the official, sending him hurtling to the ground. The ref left the game and had to be evaluated for potential injuries to his shoulder as well as a concussion. 

Why the move represented more than poor sportsmanship

Players getting into scuffles is one thing. In the heat of the moment, athletes can let their emotions spill over into physical confrontations. At any level, these skirmishes are typically short and broken up by other players. Think of a hitter in baseball charging the mound or two NBA players pushing each other.

This was much different. This player targeted an unsuspecting non-athlete. Not only did he make physical contact with the referee, but he also caused the individual to seek medical care. In a world where players are suspended for fighting, one can only imagine what happens after they engage a non-player in a physical way.

In most sports, even lightly grazing an official is grounds for immediate dismissal. This obviously went well beyond that. The gravity of the situation is clear. So what was the aftermath for both the player and the team? 

The high school team loses its spot in the playoffs

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The fallout was quick and brutal for both the player and his team. Edinburg High School suspended the whole team despite winning the game in question. The school issued this statement:

“The district has decided to remove the Edinburg High School football team from the playoffs after an unexpected incident involving a student that occurred during a football game on December 3, 2020 … We extend a sincere apology to the referee and his family. On behalf of the Edinburg CISD Board of Trustees and administration, we apologize to the athletes, staff, and our school community …

We will take the appropriate disciplinary action once we understand the facts and circumstances underlining this incident. The district takes these matters very seriously; however, we cannot comment further on a pending investigation.”

As for the player, after law enforcement escorted him from the stadium, police charged him with assault. He received a charge for a Class A misdemeanor. According to the Texas-based Schneider Law Firm, these misdemeanors are punishable by up to a year in jail and/or a $4,000 fine. The only silver lining: The referee’s daughter took to social media to let everyone know he was OK and recovering after the incident.