There are some moments in sports that go far beyond the unwritten rules of the game. Trash talking and hilarious game day signs are built into every rivalry and every game that’s played across all sports. There’s a metaphorical line in the sand that you don’t cross, and sometimes jumping clear over that line calls for more than a minor penalty.
In what can only be described as a specific, targeted attempt at inflicting injury, a freshman football player at Burleson Independent School District in Texas was targeted on three separate kickoffs during a football game September 13. In the most shocking play, a player from Waco ISD throws the freshman to the ground, appears to choke him, and repeatedly slams his head into the playing field.
Jagger Gower is the freshman at Burleson High School who was attacked during the game. Gower is a backup quarterback on the team, and he’s also a member of the kickoff coverage team.
On two different kickoffs, Gower is specifically targeted. The first, Gower is hit unnecessarily by a University High School player, and later, grabbed and thrown to the ground on the opposite side of the field where the play is taking place.
This video is the most shocking of them all, where the first player who threw Gower down does it again. This time, the player sits on Gower’s chest, chokes him and slams his head into the ground before coaches rush onto the field.
The attacking player was ejected from the game, but his only other punishment was a first-half suspension for the following game. According to the Burleson Star in Texas, that is the University Interscholastic League’s minimum penalty for a suspension.
Gower sustained a concussion during the incident, which he has yet to return from.
Jennifer Gower, Jagger’s mother, said that her fear is other kids will be targeted like her son was if this behavior isn’t appropriately handled.
In a statement released on Friday, a UIL spokesperson said the league will not seek additional consequences for the player or school and is ending their investigation.
“The District Executive Committee for District 5-5A met to discuss penalties related to the Waco University [High] vs. Burleson game on September 13. Waco University [High School] discussed the penalties issued by Waco ISD to involved players, and the DEC accepted these penalties. Since the DEC accepted the penalties issued by Waco ISD, the State Executive Committee will not meet on this case and the UIL investigation has concluded. Questions about the penalties issued should be directed to the district chair or Waco University.” — UIL statement
As a fan of the sport, it’s sickening that this kid is allowed to continue to compete in high school football this season.
I’m all for second chances, and I certainly believe that a young kid can make mistakes, but how can a group of sensible adults who monitor this kind of behavior not pass down any further punishment?
There’s something wrong about this situation, and it won’t be the last time the UIL or Waco ISD hear about their head-scratching decision.