High School Soccer Game Leads to Criminal Assault

Many would consider the occasional injury from playing high school sports part of the experience – that’s why most schools require parents to sign waivers acknowledging that sports can result in physical mishaps. But what happens when the injury that results is the result of a criminal act committed during a game? This question reportedly became very relevant for one Cincinnati family last month.

According to reports from WCPO News, the incident occurred at a boys’ varsity soccer game between St. Xavier School and McNicholas School, two area high schools. During the game, a player from St. Xavier’s allegedly came from behind a McNicholas player and punched him at least six times.

Because both of the players were minors, their parents were responsible for any and all potential legal ramifications of the punching. The father of the McNicholas player allegedly asked for a written apology from St. Xavier’s administration, but did not receive one. It was then that he decided to take legal action and consider criminal charges, WCPO reports.

But criminal assault? In a soccer game? Does that even make sense?

According to Cristo Lessiter, University of Cincinnati profess or of law, yes. Lessiter recently published a paper exploring the idea of criminal assault in competitive sporting events, using as the focal point of his study an incident during the Super Bowl playoffs between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Lessiter reaches the conclusion in his paper that neither an athletic field nor a sporting event can excuse criminal behavior like assault. In the WCPO article, Lessiter mentions that, had the punching happened anywhere other than a soccer field, there would be no question as to its criminality.

Despite this opinion, the punched boy’s father reportedly sought a meeting with the officials of the two schools, the players, and their parents. He apparently hoped to settle the dispute without creating any more unnecessary conflict, and didn’t want to press criminal charges if the matter could be otherwise resolved.

In an updated report, WCPO indicated that St. Xavier’s officials eventually did apologize to the injured McNicholas student. The punched player’s father agreed not to press criminal charges, sources say, calling the event “ridiculous” and its aftermath “shocking.”

This incident could be indicative of a trend of increasing pressure for high school athletes, some experts say. Apparently, high school sports are growing in importance for many students, especially with pressures around college scholarship and admission often centering around performance on the playing field.

At the time of the reports, sources had not yet revealed whether or not the player for St. Xavier’s would receive more than the mandatory two-game suspension for his actions.