On Wednesday, December 19, the Riverview Gardens High School boys basketball team will play at home against North Technical High School. The return to the court comes nearly four weeks after the team was involved in an on-court fight with the Alton High School boys basketball team.
The discipline for our players included forfeiting three games and cancelling two tournaments. Alton returned to the court on December 4. Many people have wondered why our team’s punishment was so harsh. Was it an admission of fault? Is it evidence that our players were the aggressors?
No and no.
The answer is simple: we are creating a culture of expectations and accountability that is not guided by outside influences. In other words, our focus is keeping our house in order.
In the weeks following the incident, our players have proven that they are young men of good character. In addition to immediately accepting responsibility and conveying remorse for their role in the fight, they have participated in the Salvation Army’s Toy Town community service project. Our players have also excelled in the classroom, but that is nothing new. They are moving forward with their heads held high.
Now that our players have done their part, I am hoping the community will do its part. We need to show support for these young men at Wednesday’s game, so anyone wearing Riverview Gardens High School colors can attend the game for free. The gym should be filled with students, parents, staff, alumni, and community members.
Some will ask, “Why should I show support for players who got into a fight on the basketball court?”
My answer: this is not about basketball, basketball players, or a fight. In fact, it is not even about our school or team. It is about sending young people across St. Louis a critical message: if you make a mistake, all is not lost. We will still support you. We will still love you.
On Wednesday, we have a chance to inspire young people to overcome mistakes. The game starts at 5:30 p.m. See you there!
Those who cannot attend the game can mail letters of encouragement to Riverview Gardens High School at 1218 Shepley Dr., St. Louis, MO, 63137. Messages can also be emailed to email@example.com. I will read them to our team before the game.
Anthony Kiekow is executive director of Communications for the Riverview Gardens School District.