PHOENIX — A post-game practice meant as a gesture of good sportsmanship erupted into a full-out brawl at a high school basketball game on Saturday night.
It happened as players lined up to shake hands at the end of a tournament game between Laveen Cesar Chavez High School and Mesa Skyline High School.
The fight got so big, it not only involved the players, but it also had fans and adults jumping in too.
Video obtained by 12 News shows the brawl starts when a Cesar Chavez student appears to exchange words with a Skyline player and then throws a punch at him.
Other teammates immediately jump in.
In another video, which shows the fight from another angle, you can see people from the stands jumping in.
Phoenix police eventually responded to the high school, and the crowd was asked to leave. There were no reports of injuries or arrests.
The Arizona Interscholastic Association, the body that oversees high school sports in the state, is investigating the incident.
"I was really disappointed when I saw the video," said David Hines, AIA's executive director. "The fact that we had the game completed, and we are in the handshake line, that's a point we want to respect the game."
Hines said it's up to the schools involved to conduct their own investigations and come up with penalties and punishments. The AIA oversees the process and makes its own recommendations.
"And there will be suspensions from games for all students involved with probably a range of three to five games at a minimum," Hines said.
A spokesperson for Mesa Public School District called the brawl "an unfortunate incident" and said the students involved will receive appropriate punishments.
"The district is reviewing the incident that occurred at Saturday’s game at Central High School. Students involved will receive appropriate consequences. This unfortunate incident is not representative of the athletic culture that exists in Mesa Public Schools. District and school staff will work together to discuss ways to prevent disruptions like this in the future and ensure the safety of all athletes and visitors in attendance at sporting events."
Phoenix Union High School District also released a statement, saying this type of behavior will not be tolerated.
PUHSD said it is still investigating, but they have already come up with initial consequences, including:
- Cesar Chavez will forfeit its next game against Tolleson High School
- All players involved will be punished according to the code of conduct and receive a minimum of a three-game suspension
- The Cesar Chavez basketball team will issue a formal apology to Skyline High School and Central High School, which hosted the tournament.
The district said more punishments may follow as the investigation continues.
"Our fans and students have to realize that's not the behavior we want," Hines said.
AIA said in a statement the suspensions and penalties will be finalized at a meeting next Monday:
"Both schools reached out to the AIA to look into this situation. And both schools will be suspending those involved and want the AIA’s opinion about the matter. They will come to their decisions before the week is out, a consensus will be reached, and the whole matter will be discussed at the regularly scheduled Executive Board meeting this coming Monday. Suspensions and school penalties will be finalized at the meeting. As far as the fans go, that is on the school(s) to handle."