On Saturday, a young Wisconsin boy was prevented by a Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association official from hugging his sister after her team won the girls state high school basketball championship, bringing him to tears.
Sydney Levy, a junior guard for the Appleton North Lightning, always hugs her little brother Jaylen after every game. But when the Lightning players were awarded their individual medals and the team trophy after they defeated De Pere 49-34, she stepped off the awards platform and opened her arms so Jaylen could run and hug her on the court.
When Sydney turned to Jaylen with her arms outstretched as he ran to her on the court, WIAA Associate Director Deb Hauser intervened, blocking his way so the siblings couldn’t hug. Jaylen ran back to his parents and cried.
Sydney and Jaylen's dad, Nic Levy, posed the video of the almost-hug on Twitter:
Todd C. Clark, Director of Communications for WIAA, released a statement that read:
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.
Appleton North went undefeated in the 2016-17 season.