School district should take zero tolerance policy on athletes fighting

By Doug Halberstadt
Sports Columnist

I wasn’t at the game. I don’t know anyone on either team. I have no allegiance to either school. I’ve only seen the video and some of the photographs that have been in the media.

I’m talking about the recent and now semi-famous high school basketball game between Rockford East and Rockford Jefferson that ended in a brawl. The fight involved some of the players and then escalated among some of the fans.

This game is a subject that has generated countless conversations in our community. I’ve shared my opinion with family and a few close friends, and we all seem to be in agreement.

I think all grade school, middle school and high school sports should adopt a zero tolerance policy regarding fighting. All individuals involved should be immediately dismissed from that team and not be allowed to participate in any further sports for a period of no less than one year from the date of the occurrence. This would have to be enforced on a district-wide level. That would prevent a player from transferring from school to school trying to avoid the suspension.

In my opinion, it should be that simple. Any incident involving any physical altercation and the player would be done. Any fan involved should be arrested. A true zero tolerance policy would be the only way to resolve this issue.

Fortunately, these types of incidents are relatively rare. But one is too many. The safety of the other players, coaches and general public attending these games must be assured. When the safety of innocent people is put at risk, it requires more than a slap on the wrist. It should be dealt with swiftly, and more importantly, severely.

Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at

From the March 12-18, 2014 print edition

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