SEATTLE – A video showing several rough fouls during a high school basketball game in central Washington last month has gone viral on YouTube, and has led to one of the teens involved being called “The dirtiest basketball player in America” by at least one website.
And as The Tri-City Herald reports, it's an example of how an online video meant to only be seen by a few can quickly be seen by thousands.
The five-minute video of the Dec. 22 game between Highland and Connell shows the fouls by two Connell players. The description below the video reads “The focus of this video is aimed at the poor officiating that took place in this game.”
In one of the plays, a Highland player going for a layup is fouled hard by Connell’s Cole Vanderbilt and flops to the floor. The referee calls it a hold.
The Herald reports the man who shot the video, Michael Christenson, meant for just the Highland players to see the video. His nephew plays for Highland. But once it was on the web, it took on a life of its own. Since being uploaded on Dec. 28, it's been viewed over 5.5 million times as of Jan. 7.
The player getting the brunt of the criticism is Vanderbilt, a 6-foot-3, 280 pound senior who is also a lineman on the Connell football team. Vanderbilt’s family and coach say they way he is being portrayed in the video, and now across the Internet, is not the type of person he really is.
A 30-year veteran of the Tri-Cities Officials Association points out the video only shows the six Connell fouls, which reportedly all happened in the first 10 minutes, and not the entire game. He also said the referees did their job.
North Franklin School District Superintendent Gregg Taylor told media in the Tri-Cities that he had no idea the video would get so much attention. He says he agrees the fouls were inappropriate and excessive. He also says the district has taken action to make sure they don’t happen again. Taylor says the coach will not be fired.
The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association released this statement on the video:
“The WIAA is currently working with the two schools, officials and Washington Officials Association on the situation. The WIAA has the utmost concern for the safety of the student-athletes and the welfare of the game.”