A Florida high school was penalized after a postgame brawl, apparently sparked by tension over a school’s Blue Lives Matter flag, another school’s players kneeling during the national anthem, and accusations of racial slurs.
The Nov. 27 fight was at the end of a playoff game between Mitchell High School and Wekiva High School. Mitchell won, 24-18, but the brawl afterward captured the headlines.
Wekiva was blamed for initiating it, the Orlando Sentinel reported. The Florida High School Athletic Association handed out penalties, including putting the school on probation through June 2022. Ten players were suspended from athletic activities.
One unnamed player reportedly was banned from competing for 12 months and all players must take a sportsmanship course.
The tension between the schools built when Mitchell players ran out onto the field with a Blue Lives Matter flag. Some Wekiva players then knelt during the national anthem. Wekiva players also told the Sentinel that Mitchell players were hurling racial slurs at them during the game. Mitchell coach Andrew Schmitz denied the accusation.
Video posted to social media shows players on both sides pushing, and some throwing punches after the final whistle, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
Additional video shows at least one person not in a football uniform throwing helmets at a Mitchell player. A player was accused by Wekiva players of using racial slurs during the game and was punched after the game, the Sentinel reported.
The Orange County Sheriff’s Office said no criminal complaint had been filed and no reports were taken, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
As far as the Blue Lives Matter flag goes, Schmitz told the Times the team had been running out with the flag for the last few years.
“It goes back to a team that we had a couple of years ago that had several parents that were police officers. So they started running out with it, and then (the tradition) has just kind of gotten passed down. I don’t understand how that’s part of the story, but whatever,” he told the newspaper.