Editorial: Teams will feel consequences

Published 4:31 pm Sunday, February 14, 2016

It’s been said that wisdom consists of the anticipation of consequences. Clearly not a lot of wisdom was at work  Friday night when the Salisbury and North Rowan basketball teams cleared their benches to join an on-court confrontation between two players. Impulse and emotion took over as the young men jumped to their teammates’ defense.

Coaches and officials might have been able to contain the incident had fans not rushed the court too. Fortunately, no one was seriously injured. The teams’ prospects for post-season play may suffer, though. The game was called to a halt at the end of the third quarter, when the fight started. Now the teams await the consequences of their actions — word from the N.C. High School Athletic Association about their eligibility for future play. The majority of both teams’ players were ejected from the game, and that usually leads to being suspended from play for two games.

What a shame. Salisbury and North Rowan have been intense rivals for a long time, and usually they show better sportsmanship. But high school sports can be emotionally charged. Players trained from youth to be highly competitive see their role models take reactions to the extreme on TV, and sometimes they do the same. That doesn’t make it right. Regardless of who started the confrontation Friday night, both teams are at fault in letting things get out of control. Both teams should be held accountable. So should the fans who joined in.

The Friday night incident capped an unusual week for Salisbury High. Just the day before, Principal Luke Brown awarded a certificate of achievement to senior Robert Gilmore at Brenner Children’s Hospital in Winston-Salem. The popular student has been fighting cancer many of his 19 years and is now in hospice care.

High school is a tumultuous time. In addition to academics and sports, young people are working their way through difficult emotional development. They may face life and death issues, but basketball is not one of them. The teams at Salisbury and North are about to learn the hard way that self-control and good sportsmanship serve them much better than being impulsive and confrontational.