Covering High School Sports in America



Simply, the 5-plus minute video from a recent high school boys basketball game stands on its own.

Depending on one's perspective, snippets taken from the game Dec. 22 between Highland (Cowiche, Wash.) and Connell (Wash.) highlight a series of uncalled flagrant fouls, instances of physical play and incompetent officiating. Maybe it's a combination of the three, or none of the above. The Internet allows each individual to decide.

What can't be disputed, though, is how quickly video can go viral in this age of social media and the impact it can have. Each weekend countless highlight clips are posted at various sites for the world to see, showcasing the efforts of the nation's prep athletes. The featured athletes are memorialized for a moment in time.

The embedded video is no different. It focuses on six physical fouls committed by two Connell players in a 38-37 win against Highland. Since it was posted on YouTube on Dec. 28 by the uncle of one of the Highland players, reaction to the video has been significant. It has received more than 25,000 views and has drawn more than 90 comments.

That happens when the video is picked up by another web site – in this instance Guyism.com – and given the headline, ‘The dirtiest basketball player in America.'

Michael Christenson told the Tri-City Herald that he shot and posted the video solely to spotlight to what he considered poor officiating. While it might or might not have done that, it certainly brought unwanted attention to all involved on both sides of the camera.

"Thinking about it now, I maybe could have contacted the WIAA (Washington Interscholastic Activities Association) first, but I wasn't expecting this," Christenson, 32, told the newspaper. "It wasn't my intention to single (the player) out. If you look closely at my video, his name is never mentioned. What I wanted to single out was the officiating."

Not surprisingly, the video drew criticism from a local basketball official because it didn't show the overall game, just a few select plays.

The grandmother of one of the featured players, No. 34, also felt the need to speak out on behalf of her grandson, and Connell coach Oscar Garza came to the defense of his player(s). The play of No. 34 has generated the most comments on YouTube.

"He's a tough kid, but those that know him know he's a teddy bear," Garza told the Tri-City Herald. "But on (YouTube) he's the world's meanest, ugliest kid. It's not fair, but I just want him to know his teammates and coaches are behind him."

In this day and age when video content is so prevalent – and people can comment in any fashion they choose with little regard - perhaps Connell athletic director Steve Frucci summed up matters regarding social media best when he told the newspaper, "Everybody has a right to their opinion. Not everybody thinks about all the consequences about what their actions will be.

"It goes to show what can happen in today's day and age. Whoever can afford that technology can do anything they want."