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Paly athletics faces sanctions after student misconduct at football game

Crowd of 100 students rushed Gunn spectator stands during a Sept. 9 rivalry game

Paly runs the football against Los Altos during a game in September 2021. Paly students could be banned from attending games this season as part of various sanctions following spectator misconduct during a game against Gunn High earlier this month. Courtesy Karen Ambrose Hickey.

Palo Alto High School is facing various sanctions from its athletic league after a crowd of its students rushed the Gunn High School spectator section during a football game between the two schools earlier this month.

Administrators also have issued stern warnings against future misconduct, including urging students not to participate in the annual "egg wars" event that generally coincides with Paly's Spirit Week, which is scheduled for next week.

The admonitions come in the wake of a Sept. 9 rivalry game between Gunn and Paly, where more than 100 Paly students left their bleachers in the final minutes of the match — which Paly won 41-0 — and ran into the Gunn student section, creating a chaotic scene, Superintendent Don Austin wrote in his weekly message to families on Sept. 16.

"The risk for a serious altercation was real," Austin said. "It was one of the most egregious displays of fan misconduct I have seen throughout my career, including hundreds of football games."

In a video message to students, Paly Principal Brent Kline laid out various sanctions that the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League has proposed, including banning student spectators from the Sept. 24 football game at Menlo School. Only players' parents and siblings, who aren't themselves Paly students, will be allowed to attend, Kline said.

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The league intended to ban students from the following match as well, Kline said, but made an exception because it will be the Set. 30 homecoming game against Homestead High School. If there is further bad behavior at any Paly sporting event, however, Kline said there will be more sanctions, including the potential for students to be banned from participating in Central Coast Section playoffs.

The league sanctions are expected to be finalized at the SCVAL board of managers meeting on Thursday, Kline said, adding in an email to the Weekly that he plans to present a counter proposal to SCVAL's proposed sanctions.

According to a draft of the counter proposal that Kline shared with the Weekly, he is suggesting various additional measures, including canceling the 2023 football game against Gunn. Paly also would institute bag checks and breathalyzers at games, as well as have students participate in a lesson on sportsmanship. There also could be limits placed on the upcoming homecoming activities, although what those would be weren't specified.

In the video to students, Kline said that the decision of the crowd to enter the Gunn spectator section goes against simple expectations of sportsmanship and that he is surprised some students have claimed the behavior was acceptable.

"The actions we saw last Friday night were absolutely wrong and completely unfortunate," Kline said in the Sept. 16 video. "This is not the Paly I know."

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Kline added that Paly students have a history of inappropriate spectator behavior and that it needs to end. Austin similarly said at a Sept. 13 school board meeting that part of the rationale behind the league's punishments is a history of poor behavior at Paly games.

Calling for "egg wars" to end

Both Kline and Austin also are calling for Paly students to stop participating in "egg wars," an annual tradition where juniors and seniors gather off campus at night to throw eggs at each other.

At last week's school board meeting, Austin described the event as "mass vandalism" and said he is dismayed that some adults condone it. He added that he supports any steps taken by Paly administrators to prevent or respond to egg wars.

"Egg wars will be treated this year for what they are — they are not cute; they are not a right," Austin said

Kline told students that although some think it's a harmless tradition, egg wars can compromise the community's safety, causing injuries and property damage. He added that illegal substance use usually accompanies the event.

Although Kline acknowledged that his control is limited over what happens off campus, he urged students to put an end to the tradition.

"Egg wars (is) the most undisputed terrible tradition I have ever heard of at a public high school," Kline said.

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Zoe Morgan
 
Zoe Morgan covers education, youth and families for the Mountain View Voice and Palo Alto Weekly / PaloAltoOnline.com, with a focus on using data to tell compelling stories. A Mountain View native, she has previous experience as an education reporter in both California and Oregon. Read more >>

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Paly athletics faces sanctions after student misconduct at football game

Crowd of 100 students rushed Gunn spectator stands during a Sept. 9 rivalry game

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Wed, Sep 21, 2022, 8:20 pm

Palo Alto High School is facing various sanctions from its athletic league after a crowd of its students rushed the Gunn High School spectator section during a football game between the two schools earlier this month.

Administrators also have issued stern warnings against future misconduct, including urging students not to participate in the annual "egg wars" event that generally coincides with Paly's Spirit Week, which is scheduled for next week.

The admonitions come in the wake of a Sept. 9 rivalry game between Gunn and Paly, where more than 100 Paly students left their bleachers in the final minutes of the match — which Paly won 41-0 — and ran into the Gunn student section, creating a chaotic scene, Superintendent Don Austin wrote in his weekly message to families on Sept. 16.

"The risk for a serious altercation was real," Austin said. "It was one of the most egregious displays of fan misconduct I have seen throughout my career, including hundreds of football games."

In a video message to students, Paly Principal Brent Kline laid out various sanctions that the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League has proposed, including banning student spectators from the Sept. 24 football game at Menlo School. Only players' parents and siblings, who aren't themselves Paly students, will be allowed to attend, Kline said.

The league intended to ban students from the following match as well, Kline said, but made an exception because it will be the Set. 30 homecoming game against Homestead High School. If there is further bad behavior at any Paly sporting event, however, Kline said there will be more sanctions, including the potential for students to be banned from participating in Central Coast Section playoffs.

The league sanctions are expected to be finalized at the SCVAL board of managers meeting on Thursday, Kline said, adding in an email to the Weekly that he plans to present a counter proposal to SCVAL's proposed sanctions.

According to a draft of the counter proposal that Kline shared with the Weekly, he is suggesting various additional measures, including canceling the 2023 football game against Gunn. Paly also would institute bag checks and breathalyzers at games, as well as have students participate in a lesson on sportsmanship. There also could be limits placed on the upcoming homecoming activities, although what those would be weren't specified.

In the video to students, Kline said that the decision of the crowd to enter the Gunn spectator section goes against simple expectations of sportsmanship and that he is surprised some students have claimed the behavior was acceptable.

"The actions we saw last Friday night were absolutely wrong and completely unfortunate," Kline said in the Sept. 16 video. "This is not the Paly I know."

Kline added that Paly students have a history of inappropriate spectator behavior and that it needs to end. Austin similarly said at a Sept. 13 school board meeting that part of the rationale behind the league's punishments is a history of poor behavior at Paly games.

Calling for "egg wars" to end

Both Kline and Austin also are calling for Paly students to stop participating in "egg wars," an annual tradition where juniors and seniors gather off campus at night to throw eggs at each other.

At last week's school board meeting, Austin described the event as "mass vandalism" and said he is dismayed that some adults condone it. He added that he supports any steps taken by Paly administrators to prevent or respond to egg wars.

"Egg wars will be treated this year for what they are — they are not cute; they are not a right," Austin said

Kline told students that although some think it's a harmless tradition, egg wars can compromise the community's safety, causing injuries and property damage. He added that illegal substance use usually accompanies the event.

Although Kline acknowledged that his control is limited over what happens off campus, he urged students to put an end to the tradition.

"Egg wars (is) the most undisputed terrible tradition I have ever heard of at a public high school," Kline said.

Comments

Hulkamania
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 22, 2022 at 9:14 am
Hulkamania, Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on Sep 22, 2022 at 9:14 am

Egg wars? I went to Paly 1962 - '65. Halloween was a night of open warfare. Pardee Park was a battleground. The good old days...


Bystander
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 22, 2022 at 9:45 am
Bystander, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Sep 22, 2022 at 9:45 am

Perhaps this is what happens when kids have been locked up in their homes without socialization for a couple of years.

The comparatively few (compared to the student body as a whole) have had no social guidance on how to behave at these types of events in recent years. Their formative years need to be full of age appropriate socialization to aid their social development. It is quite likely that these kids on both school sides have actually spent time together over the years, from elementary, middle schools, local sports, local music, etc. etc. and actually know each other.

Virtual zoom classes will have caused problems we are only just beginning to see.


Wei Zhao
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 22, 2022 at 9:50 am
Wei Zhao, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Sep 22, 2022 at 9:50 am

Such a waste of food as eggs now cost $4.00 a dozen.

Eat eggs...do not throw them!


Shawn
Registered user
Midtown
on Sep 22, 2022 at 10:20 am
Shawn , Midtown
Registered user
on Sep 22, 2022 at 10:20 am

If you locked your kids down for 2 years , that’s on you !
Don’t blame this on that , these kids know perfectly well what’s happening and what they are doing. Keep your own lock down issues to yourself


PABill
Registered user
Gunn High School
on Sep 22, 2022 at 10:48 am
PABill, Gunn High School
Registered user
on Sep 22, 2022 at 10:48 am

Millions of people were locked up for 2 years that didn't commit crimes. Full punishment required.


EYC
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Sep 22, 2022 at 10:53 am
EYC, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Sep 22, 2022 at 10:53 am

Bag checks and breathalyzers at games are necessary for the big sport or dance events. The school should punish the "Bad Apples" instead of all students. It's unfair and hurtful to the thousands of students that didn't participate at the Gunn game or other mischief incidents.


Green Gables
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 22, 2022 at 10:26 pm
Green Gables, Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on Sep 22, 2022 at 10:26 pm

My adult children - 59, 58, 53 years old - participated in such things as described above only I was clearly not in the know as a working single parent. They (and many others) also bought alcohol, which they told me about years after, in Whiskey Gulch and 7-11 downtown Palo Alto. Neighbors a few doors from me - a Medical Doctor and his wife, who had a big job with the City and County of San Francisco (and was fired a few years ago) use to hand out marijuana instead of cash to babysitters for their sons. Also, payment for window washing.


Jennifer
Registered user
another community
on Sep 23, 2022 at 7:17 am
Jennifer, another community
Registered user
on Sep 23, 2022 at 7:17 am

This isn't the Paly I know... so true. This is rivalry related, and it can get ugly. Lockdowns aside, the kids need to be punished. Adults who condone this behavior are enablers.


Sharon Davis
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Sep 23, 2022 at 12:49 pm
Sharon Davis, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Sep 23, 2022 at 12:49 pm

Replace the eggs with water balloons and this controversy is easily resolved.


Native to the BAY
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Sep 23, 2022 at 10:16 pm
Native to the BAY, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Sep 23, 2022 at 10:16 pm

@Jennifer is it related? Gunn and or Paly or both paid for 4 privately contracted, fully armed security guards. For the JV game, 3 mulling around at the only entrance/exit point within the field. One was doing duty patrolling while I spoke to my sister w her doggie outside the 8 foot iron fence. I had a nice convo with him. They were adorned with side arms and bullet proof vests. He sauntered up to me post JV game asking about why I was at that far corner — near the bathrooms. I was friendly and thanked him for his dedication, yet was just conversing w a family member as little weenie dogs weenie dogies were not allowed in. That is the rule. Yet later, 50-100 Paly students descended on to the Gunn side (are there sanctioned sides, d not cross). It was bad sportsmanship and bad manners, form. You just don’t push a dog down when they are already broken. And in the last 4 minutes of a fourth quarter. Parent volunteers. Not paid security armed men were not there to diffuse the situation. Mr. Austin. Mr. Kline. There were 4 armed and paid private security on a public school athletic game! I as a parent would have liked to be notified prior to paying an $8 entrance fee that I and my children were being patrolled by armed security during a first in a generation Gunn/Paly game. That armed guards did not deter, sway, or stop one side from going over to the other side to console, heckle, jeer, bully the losing team. What the heck! I am lost on this one. Yes “bad spotswomanship”. Yet what was taught, what was communicated, learned, lost and forsaken. Please educate me. I did not feel safe seeing 4 armed private security who were there for what? Kids jumping a fence. Apparently the volunteer parents tried to stop Paly students yet were swarmed by shear numbers. After a decade of playing, a Panemic, distance Zoom school, CZU fire, drought, and worry wether they (our kids) would survive to see another day let alone a Paly/Gunn game ... what gives? Or better “What hath been taken”


Jennifer
Registered user
another community
on Sep 23, 2022 at 11:33 pm
Jennifer, another community
Registered user
on Sep 23, 2022 at 11:33 pm

NTTB - Whenever I was at a Paly - Gunn game, it was rivalry related. I wasn't at this game, but rivalry in sports whether high school, college or professional athletes can be very dangerous. There could be more to the equation at this game, and it sounds like you were there, so you know more than me. The ugliness and physical violence at a game is usually man to man, and they've all been drinking. Whatever was going on, these kids were out of control, and they need to be punished. Stay safe!


Jesse Phillips
Registered user
Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Sep 24, 2022 at 7:34 am
Jesse Phillips, Leland Manor/Garland Drive
Registered user
on Sep 24, 2022 at 7:34 am

I'm not condoning this youthful havoc but isn't it merely reflective of what many adult spectators do at professional games (i.e public drunkenness, fighting in the stands, tossing trash onto the field, verbal altercations etc.)?

Adults are supposed to be positive role models and the kids are simply emulating bad 'grownup' behavior.


Vance Landrum
Registered user
another community
on Sep 24, 2022 at 9:17 am
Vance Landrum, another community
Registered user
on Sep 24, 2022 at 9:17 am

Was anyone physically injured?

If not, it was just a bunch of kids burning off some steam.

When I was in high school, school spirit was often expressed by vandalism and carried out by the block letter clubs (varsity athletes).

Spray-painting the walls of rival schools or burning the football field with our high school's initials were common and punished accordingly with after school detention.

The police were never called in to intervene and in many instances, local cops who were former alumni found amusement in these outlets.

Times have changed.


Larry Berg
Registered user
Mountain View
on Sep 24, 2022 at 2:54 pm
Larry Berg, Mountain View
Registered user
on Sep 24, 2022 at 2:54 pm

"...rivalry in sports whether high school, college or professional athletes can be very dangerous."

^ So true as I've witnessed the violence at Oakland Colluseum, Kezar Stadium, Candlestick Park, and Dodger Stadium to name a few venues.

But all things considered, things aren't as bad as some soccer matches in Mexico where hundreds of spectators will get involved in a fray.

Very entertaining...from a safe distance.


Just Another Parent
Registered user
Midtown
on Sep 25, 2022 at 9:33 pm
Just Another Parent, Midtown
Registered user
on Sep 25, 2022 at 9:33 pm

This is excessively inflated. What happened? other than cross-town rivals competing in football, accompanied by some good, healthy, youthful exuberance, was that SOME of the Paly fans (I wont say Paly students because some fans were from other schools) went to the Gunn bleachers ....evidently breaking a rule that they likely did not know existed. Not everyone went and some turned around once directed to.

No one was hurt, there was not any roughness or violence, no crime was committed. Kids were hanging with their friends, having fun, as they should be.

Do not let Don Austin's selective memory and outrageous imagination make you think it was anything more than that or even close to an angry, violent mob or "the worst display of fan misconduct ever". Shame on him and Mr Kline for defining Paly students in such an overtly negative light. PAUSD can correct behavior, educate on rules and teach sportsmanship without going over the top piling on punitive measures and illustrating such a bad picture of their students.

In addition a BOE member posted news of this situation on their social media channels, hyping allegations of wrong doing by "hundreds" of students in a forum where they have no chance to stand up for themselves. I suggest PAUSD BOE and Don Austin turn around and focus on their own ethics and behavior instead of continuously tainting students in the media for an innocuous event while sweeping true illegal and unethical district related activities under the rug.

And please do not mix this extreme sensation with egg wars .....eggs were not thrown at the game. While egg wars have taken place, to many kids delight and many adult's dismay, egg wars have nothing to do with the game and Paly or Gunn athletics in general.


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