This is madness. An AAU game being held in Emerson, Georgia descended into violent chaos in the final minute when players from Chicago’s R.A.W. Athletics got into a massive brawl with at least one of the referees:
ESPN has a lengthy report of what took place towards the end of the game. All sides agree on this basic timeline: one of the referees gave a technical foul to a R.A.W. player, and the two exchanged words, and eventually the referee got into an escalating physical confrontation with basically the entire R.A.W. team. The R.A.W Athletics coach says the referee instigated the brawl by chirping at one of his players and then shoving the player when he responded in kind. The coach of the Houston Raptors, R.A.W.’s opponent, says the opposite is true—after a technical foul was assessed, a R.A.W. player bumped the referee with his shoulder and knocked him to the ground, triggering the melee:
“The referee definitely didn’t attack the kids,” Benjamin said. “Absolutely not. Once things got going, and he was attacked ... he got assaulted. They were too outnumbered to even try to defend themselves.”
“They started arguing with each other and their coach,” Benjamin said about the moments before the fight started. “During a timeout, I said, ‘I think they know they’re not gonna beat us in basketball, but I think they might try to challenge us in something else because they’re challenging their coach.’ Five minutes before the fight, God gave us a sign that something ugly was about to happen.”
Whatever happened, a youth basketball game presided over by adult referees and adult coaches, held in the presence of adult parents, should never be allowed to escalate in competitive intensity to the point where things get this out of control. Alas.