Note: The original video posted on Twitter was removed by the user.
An excited child was stopped by a Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association Association employee when he attempted to hug his older sister after her team won a state championship March 11.
The incident took place after Appleton North’s girls basketball team was presented with its first-ever state championship trophy after defeating De Pere. The toddler was seen jumping up and down in excitement waiting for his older sister, junior guard Sydney Levy, to walk off the podium to give him a hug.
That’s when WIAA Associate Director Deb Hauser stepped in to separate the pair before they could celebrate with a hug. The child turned back to the camera and his parents with a heartbroken expression as his sister was told to continue walking the other way with her team.
The video was posted to Twitter by their father, Nic Levy. He said in a tweet that the 3-year-old boy, Jaylen, had been giving Sydney a hug after every game. When he was told he wouldn’t be able to after the biggest game of the season, he continued to cry.
Nic Levy released a statement on behalf of his family March 13, saying that “no arrangements were made to allow players to join their families” in celebration at the game’s conclusion. Instead, he said families of team members were asked to leave the building almost immediately after North’s win.
The WIAA released a statement March 13 that said it has reached out to the Levy family and deeply regrets that the incident occurred the way it did.
Sydney Levy said to Action 2 News that she was upset, but wasn’t the only one who was unable to celebrate with family members after the North’s victory.
Obviously, it was disappointing that I didn’t get to hug my brother, but just because the video was of us and the fact that he was a 3-year-old little boy, it doesn’t mean we are the only ones affected. I had teammates who had family travel from all over who didn’t get to celebrate with them, so that was disappointing.
Hauser told Fox 11 News after the video surfaced that it’s vital “all spectators are kept off the playing surface” at WIAA championship events.
It is not possible for us to know the individual traditions and rituals of all the schools, teams, family’s and players involved in the state championships we sponsor and for the safety of all involved, spectators are kept off the playing surface at all of our state championships. We hope that all the teams and players have ample opportunity for hugs and celebrations over a great season following their on-court ceremony
WIAA Director of Communications Todd Clark said in a statement March 12 that the group’s rules state that the court must be clear from spectators at all times, WBAY-TV reported. He encouraged family members and friends to celebrate a victory away from the court.
For the safety of the players, coaches, media and spectators, as well as conducting the award ceremonies in a proficient and efficient manner, the WIAA does its best to keep spectators from entering onto the court at anytime. We encourage players, their families, classmates and others to celebrate and exchange their congratulations, as well as share their joy at the appropriate time after the ceremonies.
In January 2016, the WIAA made national headlines when an email sent out to students said it’s banning “chants by the student sections directed at opponents and/or opponents’ supporters that are clearly intended to disrespect.”
Examples of the “banned” chants included: “Air ball,” “We can’t hear you,” “Scoreboard” and many others.
WIAA Executive Director David Anderson told Fox Sports that he stood by the guidelines and that the story was blown out of proportion. Anderson said that the message of the email was “misconstrued and morphed into something far beyond what it was and what it was intended for.”