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WIAA, family release statements after blocked hug video goes viral

(WBAY)
Published: Mar. 12, 2017 at 10:43 PM CDT
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UPDATE: 3/13: 3:18 p.m.

A controversial moment at the WIAA State Girls Basketball tournament in Green Bay has gone viral on social media, with some fans criticizing the organization for interrupting a hug between a sister and a brother.

It happened after Appleton North defeated De Pere in the Division 1 championship game. Senior Sydney Levy was greeted by her 3-year-old brother after she was awarded a medal.

Dad Nic Levy was taking video of the moment, which abruptly ended when a WIAA associate director stepped between the siblings.

Nic Levy posted the video on Twitter, saying the little brother gets "excited to hug her after EVERY game." The tweet also said that the little boy cried.

The post was retweeted more than 1,000 times. Many responses were critical of the WIAA.

Sydney Levy released a statement to Action 2 News saying, "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."

The WIAA released a statement Monday explaining its fan policy, and saying the organization had reached out to the Levy family:

"The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association acknowledges that the short video clip that was released on social media Sunday may be seen by the casual observer as insensitive.

In the celebratory situations following a State championship, it is not possible for the WIAA to know the individual traditions and rituals of all the schools, teams, families and players involved.

For the safety of all involved, we keep spectators off the playing surface. As an organization that runs large events on a regular basis, our focus is always on the safety and "what if" situations that can evolve quickly and cause potential harm to innocent bystanders.

When the WIAA staff receives advanced requests regarding special family situations or needs, we do our best to accommodate if and when possible.

The WIAA has reached out to the family to express its regrets for any distress they may have experienced."

Action 2 News spoke with Appleton North's Athletic Director on the phone. He declined our request for an interview, saying the attention should be on the girls, not a blocked hug.

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UPDATE: 3/13, 10:30 a.m.:

The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association has issued a response to a social media video taken after the Appleton North girls basketball team defeated De Pere for the D-1 championship.

The video, which has been retweeted more than 1,000 times, shows the WIAA assistant director getting between Appleton North's Sydney Levy and her little brother at the Resch Center. The tweet, posted by Nic Levy, claims that the little boy gets "excited to hug her after EVERY game."

The tweet also says that the boy cried. (see the video below.)

Here's the WIAA's full statement:

"The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association acknowledges that the short video clip that was released on social media Sunday may be seen by the casual observer as insensitive.

In the celebratory situations following a State championship, it is not possible for the WIAA to know the individual traditions and rituals of all the schools, teams, families and players involved.

For the safety of all involved, we keep spectators off the playing surface. As an organization that runs large events on a regular basis, our focus is always on the safety and "what if" situations that can evolve quickly and cause potential harm to innocent bystanders.

When the WIAA staff receives advanced requests regarding special family situations or needs, we do our best to accommodate if and when possible.

The WIAA has reached out to the family to express its regrets for any distress they may have experienced."

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PREVIOUS STORY:

A video retweeted hundreds of times at the WIAA Girls Basketball championship at the Resch Center this weekend shows WIAA's Associate Director pushing away a small child trying to get a hug from his big sister.

In an interview Monday, Dave Anderson, Executive Director of WIAA said, "We have always taken the approach that the court or the floor, the field—that's where the players and coaches belong."

People are angry about the incident shown here in a video posted by Oshkosh basketball coach Nic Levy. Levy wrote,"@wiaawistate didn't let jaylen give his sister, syd, a hug after winning the state! He gets excited to hug her after every game. He cried.”

Asked for comment Sunday night, Todd C. Clark, Director of Communications for WIAA responded:

“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.”

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