Things are always tense when archrivals face off. When the teams are competing for a state title, the tension is even more pronounced. Yet that doesn’t excuse what happened at the conclusion of the Florida state water polo championship match between traditional rivals Ft. Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas (STA) and Miami (Fla.) Belen Jesuit School.
As reported by the Miami Herald and captured on video posted on YouTube, STA finally got the better of Belen Jesuit by a final score of 13-10, capturing the school’s first water polo title in the process.
With the title decided, the teams lined up to walk through the traditional handshake line, a classic high school sports gesture aimed at maintaining a sense of friendship and collegiality. What resulted was a fracas when a Belen player used the opportunity to launch one of his STA rivals into the pool rather than shake his hand.
The resulting kerfuffle was exactly what you would expect to emerge from two rivals in such a highly-charged faceoff. STA players immediately jumped in to defend their now-soggy teammate, while Belen players responded in kind once the STA players reached the handshake line instigator. Eventually coaches from both teams were able to intervene and stop the shoving from escalating into something worse, though not before emotions were frayed and tensions reached a piqued level.
Eventually, the teams made up, with a group of Belen players apologizing to their rivals for the teammate’s actions, though that hardly makes his little shoving fit any more sportsmanlike.
Considering the fact that the game marked the final matchup of the 2013 season, that shove could mark the last act of one young man’s water polo career. That’s a shame, both for him, his school and the sense of friendship fostered when high school sports work as they should.
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