An interesting legal situation involving high school sports transpired Tuesday in a Missouri courtroom. Colin Byrd, 18, plead guilty to misdemeanor assault in Platte County Circuit Court.
Why is this worth noting? The assault transpired during a 2013 high school football game between Platte County (Mo.) and Winnetonka .
Byrd and Jake Rosebaugh got tangled up going out of bounds during a game in October. As they tumbled to the ground Rosebaugh’s helmet dislodged and Byrd hit him in the head with it. (Video above.) Bryd was immediately ejected from the game. It left Rosebaugh with a concussion that altered his life for a couple months.
WDAF wrote about the incident: “One official said he had been officiating football games for over 20 years, and had never seen anything like what happened.”
“This is a rare case where something that happens on an athletic field becomes criminal in nature,” latte County Prosecutor Eric Zahnd said. “But we believed that what happened that night was not within the bounds of a normal football game, that while the possibility of injury exists on every football play, a player does not consent to having his own helmet ripped from his head and be beaten by it.”
In a former life I covered high school sports extensively for close to a decade. Every now and then tensions boiled over. Plenty of times I saw high school kids get into serious shoving matches during a football game. You wouldn’t think so, but the amount of kicking in soccer — especially boys soccer — got out of hand and players would get very testy. Given the nature of basketball every now and then we’d see players swinging at at each other, although few of their wild punches ever landed.
Most times these sort of altercations can be avoided. It comes down to the referees doing a good job and addressing the situations before they become fights or near-fights. A player using a helmet to hit another player, however, is on a different level.
At the very least, Byrd apologized and Rosebaugh accepted it, telling WDAF-TV:
“I’m a kid too, so I don’t think he should do any jail time, but definitely community service and anger management,” said Jake Rosebaugh about Byrd’s sentence.
It never crossed my mind during my high school reporting days that any of these on-field/court scraps would be considered assault. Granted, I never saw anything transpire close to what happened in Missouri. The key difference here is officials made it seem as if the assault was deliberate and intentional by Byrd.