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Posted on Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 8 a.m.

Football brawl participants should remain a school issue, stay out of court system

By Letters to the Editor

It is our firm belief that charges brought against the three young men over the Huron/Pioneer football brawl should be dropped.

The Ann Arbor Public Schools handled the situation appropriately and it should remain a school issue. It was the coaches who demonstrated poor judgement that resulted in the brawl. If they had been better role models, the whole situation would not have escalated out of control. Both teams were given consequences and these coaches are no longer coaching.

It has been an increasing pattern these past years for public prosecutors to bring assault charges against players in professional leagues who intentionally injure another player. However we are not talking about professionals, but rather high school athletes; teens being caught up in the heat of the moment, and for the most part engaging in pushing and punching. This is properly a school matter to resolve. We feel that local law authorities bringing charges is completely out of proportion and an overreaction to the situation. It is wrong to subject young, often immature teenagers to the court system in this case, where a stigma of lawbreaker could follow them throughout life.

We also question how appropriate it is to charge only these three young men, all African American, when a great many others took part in the brawl. How can we not feel this has a tinge of racism. Regardless of race, these charges should be dropped. We do not condone fighting, but overreaction by bringing charges is an unsuitable reaction.

Courtney M. Bonam, PhD Victoria R. Cendrowski, MEd Dwight R. Cendrowski

Ann Arbor


Jan Ransom

Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 12:46 a.m.

Having recently become aware of this situation, I'm appalled that only one coach was charged, and his charges have been dropped. How many Ann Arbor residents have been reading "The New Jim Crow?" How can one of the students charged with a felony not have been one of the 24 students disciplined by AAPS? And why, if these kids did such terrible things, were two of them offered deals in exchange for pleading guilty? Maybe their charges should also be dropped; none of the three have ever been charged with a crime. Even the crutch-swinger, as I read it, didn't make contact with anyone. And he has four charges against him including assault with a deadly weapon! What's wrong with this picture? Caused by a "role model," a coach? Jan R

Jamie Pitts

Sat, Feb 2, 2013 : 2:10 p.m.

Swinging a crutch in order to severely injure someone else is a felony. How about slamming into someone and causing a brain injury? So many of us cherish football but we must admit that we're looking at a simulated warfield when we watch a game. Here you have two coaches who command two cadres of young men to run at full speed and slam into each other like rams. With the helmets designed the way that they are, the players are already starting to sustain brain injuries. Are we doing psychological harm to them as well? Because the way things work -- the way the psychology involved works -- these young men will go to great lengths to do whatever the coaches tell them to do, or, worse, what their instincts tell them to do. And where did these instincts come from? Think about it. Of course, there has to be consequences for felonious behavior. We have to fulfill our desire for justice, because our collective values have been violated. But we also have to also take the situation into account -- that there is a fierce militancy that is fostered in these players by the situation and that it is dangerous. It does not take much to influence focused, battle-activated young men to perform violent deeds outside of the dotted lines that normally constrain what these young men do on the field. This is why the coaches are more responsible for this dangerous incident, and these young men are less so. I hope that the court will take this into consideration at the trial. Observing the prevalent attitude in this discussion, I seriously doubt it.


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 12:30 p.m.

Well if a PhD and an MEd think that, it must be right. Poor Dwight aka Howard Wolowitz... Signed, A2Comments, MBA


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 6:03 p.m.

Nope, and it's not racism. The color of your skin doesn't matter. If you choose to act violently you pay the price.

Basic Bob

Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 5:13 p.m.

How can one assert that the school board handled the situation properly when no students were suspended for fighting on school property at a school event? The school board and administration have done nothing to address the violation of school rules. This goes well beyond smoking in the woods, people were knocked down and clubbed.


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 4:15 p.m.

So a victim in your opinion doesn't have a right to have his/her assailant brought on charges. You might feel different if someone smashes you in the face with a crutch.


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 4:05 p.m.

Let's learn from this and move on. I'm suprised that the race card was played here.


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 3:41 p.m.

A school is not a sanctuary from the law and its application, enforcement, and consequences.

Jim Mulchay

Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 3:12 p.m.

Would this have been handled differently if this had occurred in one of the school buildings? Would this have been handled differently if it had happened in Briarwood or on Main Street? (I surely don't know) As I understand it, the legal issue (now) has nothing to do with "why" the situation occurred or "who" started it; but rather what actions some individuals took - which someone in law enforcement felt was sufficient to initiate legal action. As far as the youth or maturity of the accused - what is maturity? when does one become responsible? 18 is the age for voting and enlistment; 16 is old enough to drive; 21 old enough to drink; 35 old enough to be president of the US;

Nicholas Urfe

Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 2:48 p.m.

If he committed no crime, he has nothing to fear. Don't do the crime if you can't do the time. What I think I saw on that video was a very serious attack. Vicious. I look forward to the facts coming out during trial.


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 2:44 p.m.

" How can we not feel this has a tinge of racism." How can you send a letter to the editor and not proof-read it? Is your PhD in English?


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 2:31 p.m.

I don't agree with this letter. I can see these people are very smart with all those letters after their name but unchecked violent behavior begets more violent behavior. I think we all live in "the real world" . Schools should not be in the law enforcement business nor should they be a shield to it. These are not mere children - these are clearly very big young men. Big enough to swing a crutch as a weapon as an example. I view keeping "that"(behavior) in the school system akin to covering it up or giving a violent person a fee pass because they wore a school uniform. I might have been swayed if the film hadn't been so clear. Anyone swinging a crutch like that on the street would be arrested and charged...I see no difference here.


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 2:23 p.m.

"when a great many others took part in the brawl" have either NOT watched the video....or you are WILLFULLY trying to disseminate false information. Those charged were both the instigators and the aggressors. You don't charge people for DEFENDING themselves... I question the judgement of these individuals who apparently have "doctorates" if they're willing to tell outright lies to support their case...

Unusual Suspect

Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 2:19 p.m.

"We do not condone fighting" Yes, you do, by making excuses for them (e.g, "caught up in the heat of the moment," "for the most part engaging in pushing and punching"). Many - most, really - people get "caught up in the heat of the moment" when they are teens, and later as adults, but they do not attack somebody else with a weapon. And it's disgusting to bring race into it and at the same time try to hide that it's an issue for you ("Regardless of race, these charges should be dropped.") For at least one of you, it's what you do as a professional. The wording of the letter above does a good job of obscuring it, but it's clearly there.


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 2:19 p.m.

I think that there should have been more punishment for the coaches for starting the brawl, and I don't like how AAPS handled it, but at the same time I don't think that the kids should go to jail for this. There were a lot of other kids in the brawl. The AAPS schools should handle the kids punishment

Bill Wilson

Sun, Feb 3, 2013 : 2:40 a.m.

Unusual... they 'incited'... which makes them equally guilty.

Unusual Suspect

Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 2:31 a.m.

Exactly what would you charge the adults with? Yelling at each other? Can we not yell at each other anymore?


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 5:14 p.m.

Most of the players didn't "jump off the cliff". Most of them were trying to get a better look at the fighting. If you are going to charge a few students, then its only right to charge a few adults.

Unusual Suspect

Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 4:31 p.m.

So, if the coaches jumped off a cliff, then the players would have, too?


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 4:22 p.m. are wrong. The coaches started the brawl. There were threatening gestures, shoving and what looked like a 15 yard tackle. Just because a coach wasn't "charged" doesn't mean they didn't start the fight.

tom swift jr.

Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 2:26 p.m.

I'm not in favor of a school board being the body that determines the punishment for a felony act. This is what the courts are for. The system of discipline in a school district does not allow for the same rights, privileges, protections, opportunity for appeal, and adherence to our constitution as does our court system. All crimes, in or out of school, should be handled by our courts. I won't ask our judges to teach math, I won't ask a uneducated school board member to be a judge (and jury, for that matter).

Unusual Suspect

Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 2:21 p.m.

The coaches didn't start a brawl. They had a verbal confrontation and there was one instance of physical action. which was deemed to be defensive in nature. The brawlers started the brawl.


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 2:14 p.m.

I'm sorry....the law is the don't get special privileges because you fit into some demographic...

Unusual Suspect

Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 2:04 p.m.

These enablers are talking to the wrong audience about the issue being moved from the schools to the courts. They need to speak to the perpetrator. When he committed felony assault, HE moved it from the school to the courts. Nobody else did that.

Ricardo Queso

Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 1:56 p.m.

Please... An 18 year old is and adult and should be aware of his actions. Pulling the hoodie over his head (IMHO) indicates enough awareness to attempt to avoid identification. Enough with the race baiting.

tom swift jr.

Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 1:54 p.m.

It is exactly this philosophy of NOT holding a young person accountable for his/her choices that results in those individuals continuing to make poor, and even more dangerous, decisions in the future. Being "caught up in the heat of the moment" is never an excuse for a felony act. "It is wrong to subject young, often immature teenagers to the court system in this case, where a stigma of lawbreaker could follow them throughout life." There is no logic to this statement. How is it "wrong", morally, legally, ethically? Should we just dissolve our Juvenile Courts because prosecuting "immature teenagers" will leave a "stigma"? Should we give all teenagers a free pass in terms of responsibility for their choices, no matter how dangerous. Your statement about the fact that these young people are African American is a red herring, they are not being prosecuted as a result of their race, but because of their choice to assault other individuals. Your advanced degrees that you seem to be so proud of (and, yes, some of us have advanced/professional degrees as well) seem to have left some gaps in your education and understanding of youth and their behaviors.


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 1:54 p.m.

"where a stigma of lawbreaker could follow them throughout life." Or it could act as a lesson to show a young man, White, African American or any other ethnic group, that there are consequences for their actions.


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 1:39 p.m.

From what I've seen and heard, the authorities weren't cherry-picking based on race. Is there an instance where a non-African American is seen assaulting someone? If so, then that should be brought to the attention of the authorities. I agree that the coaches are responsible for setting an example and behaving as adults but all assaults committed on school property are subject to charges in the court of law.


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 4:13 p.m.

Yes Run. The coaches assaulted each other. Shoving, threatening gesters and what looked like a 15 yard tackle. I know they weren't charged, but coaches started the brawl.

Barb's Mom

Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 1:37 p.m.

You say "Ann Arbor Public Schools handled the situation appropriately" and "Both teams were given consequences and these coaches are no longer coaching.". The AAPS did nothing to the coaches. they are not coaching because they quit, they weren't fired over this issue. It has been pointed out that AA Pioneer players were acting like thugs to other teams earlier in the year and nothing was done so the AAPS did not handle the situation appropriately. Also what if this would have been the baseball team and the young man swung a bat that was at his disposal and killed someone, would you still think that was ok and it was just the coaches who should be held accountable.

Susan Ursus

Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 11:55 a.m.

Guns are used in the majority of murders. Why this surprises anyone is a mystery for the ages.

Macabre Sunset

Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 3:43 p.m.

It's too late. The left has already called for a ban on "assault baseball bats."


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 3:22 p.m.

Those claiming that" the #1 weapon used in homocies and violent attacks " is a baseball bat will never provide an FBI souce for this claim because one does not exist. The link provided by smokebwr is pretty conclusive.

Unusual Suspect

Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 2:44 p.m.

"Please get your news from somebody other than Fox or the NRA" says the guy asking for objective information.


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 2:41 p.m.

Alright Billy, I did the work for you. You've been snoped. Please get your news from somebody other than Fox or the NRA.


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 2:37 p.m.

Please cite this report.


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 2:25 p.m.

Just like to note that the #1 weapon used in homicides and violent attacks in the US is a baseball sayth FBI statistics.

Unusual Suspect

Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 2:24 p.m.

That would be OK, because it would just be "a teen getting caught up in the heat of the moment."

Macabre Sunset

Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 1:36 p.m.

I don't see why something that would be a felony anywhere else should be excused just because it's on school property. We have a judicial system. Violent children, unpunished, will become violent adults - perhaps so inured to violence that they will spend their lives in prison. The courts should come down hard on children who assault other children while there's time to reform them. Why should we accept violence in the schools - against our most vulnerable citizens? And to add the charge of racism to this case? Ugly. Just because someone is black doesn't mean he gets a free pass to hit someone with a weapon. You're not doing the African-American community any favors by suggesting extra leniency. Most crime committed by black people is against other black people. That is why the inner cities can become so hopeless.

Bill Wilson

Sun, Feb 3, 2013 : 1:21 a.m.

No Jamie, Your position is ludicrous, in essence: we allow tackling, so knocking a fan watching the game is the same thing. And, may I remind you, the man used a weapon. As to hockey, you might want to Google the name Marty McSorley. McSorely used his hockey stick as a weapon and was punished by the NHL, and the police. Thank goodness that this student's victim was not seriously hurt, or killed. His next victim might not be so lucky.

Jamie Pitts

Sat, Feb 2, 2013 : 3:41 p.m.

^ | Gong, incorrect answer. It is not just on school property. It is on a football field, a place for sanctioned, rule-driven violence. And because it is within that context, a slightly different set of rules must apply. What happened in that incident was offensive to the community, but to unleash the full force of justice onto these kids is truly insane. How many times have we watched hockey fights or out of control baseball field brawls on television? Were those players led off the field to go to prison, lose their right to vote, or spend a lifetime of not being able to find a job for it? This is what these students face. And they are far more likely to become violent adults if they go to prison. I don't think that the authors are suggesting leniency due to the charged students' race. They are saying that there is a double-standard here and that it undermines the notion that justice is being done.


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 2:42 p.m.

^ | Ding! Correct answer.


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 1:23 p.m.

"for the most part engaging in pushing and punching" Well, except the kid that was swinging the crutch pretty much as hard as he could. Until I saw that video I would have agreed, but that was both vicious and cowardly.