August 14, 2017 - Chicago, IL - United Center Evacuated After Fights During Basketball Championship Game, reported by Liz Nagy, ABC-TV 7. Multiple large brawls break out inside and outside of United Center during summer youth basketball championship game. The crowd was capped at 10,000 for the event, but far more fans came to see the championship of the ironically titled "West Haven Community Safe Summer Basketball League." The brawls featured folks who were being kicked out, folks who couldn't get in, gang bangers, and a bunch of twelve and thirteen year-old kids who appeared to play a major role in the violence. Also see, Organizers: Kids As Young As 12 Behind United Center Basketball Brawl, reported by Stefano Esposito, Chicago Sun-Times, August 16, 2017.
March 17, 2017 - Sports May No Longer Be The Way Out Of Poverty. Think of sports as a set of skills that you purchase. People who either have more money or more access have a better chance of buying the skills ...or to put it another way, as youth sports become more and more organized, those who organize better win. Want evidence? Well, let's start with NCAA basketball. NCAA data shows that "[f]ewer than 1 in 5 students playing Division 1 hoops, and 1 in 7 in all Division 1 sports, come from families in which neither parent went to college. And their numbers are declining." See The Gentrification of College Hoops, reported by Tom Farrey, The Undefeated, March 17, 2017. Farrey reports, "athletes awarded scholarships in big-time college sports are more likely to come from advantaged backgrounds than the wider student body."
November 24, 2016 - Louisville, KY - 2 Killed, 4 Hurt at Louisville's Thanksgiving 'Juice Bowl', reported by Allen Cone, UPI Wire Service. We're used to seeing poor sportsmanship at games, but this was different. This was urban violence spilling over into a Thanksgiving Day flag football game. It's a distinctly urban problem.
Will flash-mob attacks hit school sports this year? We’ve seen flash mob attacks this summer in Philadelphia, San Francisco, and downtown Chicago. So far they’re viewed as social protest (San Francisco) or a reflection on poor African-American youth being out of control (Philadelphia and Chicago). Indeed, Chicago sports columnist Rick Telander suggested that organized sports may be part of the answer to flash mob violence as a good sports program would give idle youth not just something to do – but something very worthwhile to do. See Hit Back At Youth Mobs With Something Stronger: Sports by Rick Telander, Chicago Sun Times, June 12, 2011.
Rick is correct. Unfortunately, building up broken inner city sports infrastructures is a long-term solution. To go further, helping anarchist protesters in San Francisco find a better way to protest is also a long-term solution. The athletic administrator has to deal with short-term problems. This year, one of the short-term problems we will see somewhere at a youth sports contest is flash mob violence.
Mark my words, flash mob violence will happen at a youth sports contest somewhere. It may happen with poor kids - and social commentators will argue that they have nothing better to do. It may happen with rich suburban kids - and social commentators will argue that they're good kids who just wanted to have some fun. It may happen because a player is gang-affiliated. There are a lot of reasons it may happen, but somewhere it's going to happen.
The worst place for it to happen may be a basketball game, where heated rivalries and crowds in close proximity to each other have already caused spectator riots in many places. Or maybe the worst place for it to happen would be a soccer game, which tend to be under-secured and are already a cesspool of poor sportsmanship from players, coaches, and spectators. Maybe the worst place will be a high school football game where crowds are large, and could be hard to control.
At the end of the day, the worst place is going to be determined by the flash mobbers. They're going to initiate something. The high school sports administrator can only hope to respond.
Boston, MA - Funding Issues, Facilities Problems, Violence - and They Can't Win When They Play The Rich, Suburban Schools: A Classic Example of The Difficulties Of Running Inner City Sports Programs. See The Boston Globe's Failing Our Athletes Series: Part 1: Missed Opportunities: Boston's Student-Athletes Face a Sports Program In Distress by Bob Hohler, Boston Globe, June 21, 2009; Part 2: Competing Under Fire: Deadly Violence Often Part of Life For Young Athletes by Bob Hohler, Boston Globe, June 22, 2009; Part 3: Eligibility A High Hurdle: Just Getting Enough Student-Athletes Into the Game Can Often Be A Struggle by Bob Hohler, Boston Globe, June 23, 2009; Part 4: Ill Equipped To Compete: Poor Facilities and Gear Put Athletes Behind Before The Games Even Start by Bob Hohler, Boston Globe, June 24, 2009; Part 5: Coaches In The Crossfire by Bob Hohler, Boston Globe, June 25, 2009; Part 6: That Awful Empty Feeling: With Spirit and Support Lagging, Lack of Attendance Is a Growing Concern by Bob Hohler, Boston Globe, June 26, 2009; and Part 7: City Seeks Heroes To Rescue School Athletics by Bob Hohler, Boston Globe, June 27, 2009. Also, see: AD Is Hindered By Demanding Workload by Bob Hohler, Boston Globe, June 21, 2009;Flaherty Presses Menino To Get Aid by Bob Hohler, Boston Globe, June 22, 2009 (Mayor Menino is under pressure to find creative ways to fund school sports: the hot proposal is to tax professional and college athletic contests); If They Can Play, Chances Are They Don't Stay by Bob Hohler, Boston Globe, June 22, 2009 ("those darn private schools are stealing all the good athletes" is the cry of public schools in Boston - and throughout the country); Higher Standards A Point of Contention by Bob Hohler, Boston Globe, June 23, 2009 (Boston requires a 1.67 GPA while the State minimum GPA is a mere 1.0); Politicians Weigh In On City Inequities by Bob Hohler, Boston Globe, June 23, 2009; They Have Miles To Go Before They Play by Bob Hohler, Boston Globe, June 24, 2009; It's Not Unusual To Get Shut Out of A Sport by Bob Hohler, Boston Globe, June 25, 2009; and Hockey Programs Fall Through The Thin Ice by Bob Hohler, Boston Globe, June 26, 2009.
Washington, D.C. - Aging Facilities and Scarce Funds Tax The Very Good People Who Run This Program. See D.C. Public Schools Play Catch Up In Area Athletics by Alan Goldenbach, Washington Post, June 16, 2007, page E 01.
Los Angeles, CA - Think violence in interscholastic sports is a recent trend? Think again. There have been periodic outbreaks of gang violence at interscholastic contests for years. In this example from 1991, two L.A. schools cancelled a game due to the threat of gang violence. See Fearing Gang Violence, School Forfeits A Game by Robert Reinhold, New York Times, Sunday, November 3, 1991.