Police present at basketball game as Wayland-Weston rivalry heats up
Every Wayland High School student knows about the famous Wayland-Weston rivalry. Weston High School is considered to be Wayland’s greatest rival in athletics, and the annual Wayland-Weston Turkey Day game attracts many viewers from both schools. However, this past week, the friendly rivalry escalated to new heights, which were considered severe enough to involve local law enforcement and segregate the two student bodies during Friday night’s Wayland versus Weston basketball game at Weston High School.
Reports of intensified taunting and threats at Wednesday night’s Wayland versus Weston hockey game were one of the factors influencing the Wayland and Weston administrations’ decision to include a stronger police presence at Friday’s basketball game.
“Some of my guys who were at the hockey game heard people saying, ‘We’ll get you on Friday,’” Weston Chief of Police Steven Shaw said.
Some spectators at Wednesday’s hockey game did not see this sort of conduct.
“I didn’t see any of the inappropriateness people were claiming,” said Hipolito Rivera, the Wayland Middle School boys’ basketball coach.
“We [Dr. Tutwiler and I] thought that extra security might make sense and to not give anyone the opportunity to do anything,” Weston High School Principal Anthony Parker said.
However, some members of the Wayland and Weston communities did not think that the increase in local police involvement was necessary.
“I think that the students could have handled it themselves because of their parents’ participation. We don’t allow our children to step out like that. If there were threats like that, we would have handled the children. It’s okay to have police protection but not as much as you have tonight,” said Ruby Williams, the grandmother of Wayland basketball player Robert Williams.
The aggressive taunting between students on a Wayland versus Weston basketball game Facebook event also contributed to the decision to have Wayland and Weston students enter and exit the court through different doors for Friday’s game.
“I saw how people on Facebook were being vicious to each other. I thought it was unnecessary. Based on what I saw on Facebook, [extra law enforcement] was necessary,” Weston student Rachel Garwick said.
“It’s really easy when someone gets agitated,” Rivera said. “A call goes the wrong way, someone takes something the wrong way, and things could easily escalate. A simple conversation could get blown out of proportion.”
Police officers were also guarding the area in between the student spectator bleachers to prevent any students from going to the other school’s stands. This security presence enforced Wayland Athletic Director Justice Smith’s request for Wayland students to not speak with Weston students.
“It’s not going to stop us from doing what we want to do at the end of the day,” Wayland senior Stephen Powell said.
Others thought that Smith’s request was too extreme.
“It’s not like every Wayland student is a bad student, or every Weston student is a bad student. We can be friends,” said Garwick.
“These guys are all going to be playing with each other in college next year, so it might be a little silly,” Weston parent Bob Goulart said.
Both Wayland and Weston High School administrations agreed that it was time to remind students of appropriate spectator behavior.
“We thought it was time to reestablish our core values, who we are, and to remind folks about how we behave. Being at a basketball game is like being at school. You don’t have to swear, you don’t have to be derogatory, you don’t have to be demeaning [and] you don’t have to be obscene or vulgar,” Parker said.
Before Friday’s basketball game, Wayland students received an email from Smith that included the DCL spectator expectations.
“The only thing we can do is make sure we have a safe environment for all of our spectators and our fans,” Smith said.
Will the precautions taken on Friday’s game become a regular routine for spectators?
“That’s to be determined,” Parker said.