Anger Surrounds ‘Harlem Shake’ Hockey Suspensions
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MOUND, Minn. (WCCO) – The section game for the Mound Westonka White Hawks hockey team fell short of expectations with a season-ending loss – due in part because the team itself was short players.
Coming off a seven-game winning streak, the future looked bright for the team in their match-up against Blake. But hours before the game, the starting line heard they wouldn’t play.
Jack Brandstetter is one of six players who didn’t take the ice.
“Basically, yesterday’s game was what we’ve been working for our entire lives,” Brandstetter said.
Starters – including captain Charlie Curti, goalie Andy Seats and forward Jeremy Schulz – were all banned from the rink just hours before the game.
“Yesterday was a horrible experience, I think. Just feeling like we let people down even though we didn’t do much wrong,” Curti said.
It all stems from an attempt to create a White Hawk version of the “Harlem Shake” during lunchtime.
“Harlem Shake” videos are a recent YouTube phenomenon. They typically show one person dancing alone, and then – when the music drops – a bunch of people suddenly appear, dancing wildly.
Students say they had permission from lunchroom advisors to film the dance, and they even used school video equipment. But school leaders say it escalated to a point that violated school policies.
“Apparently they thought that things had got out of hand, but we really weren’t doing anything wrong,” he said.
The punishment was two-day suspensions and disorderly conduct tickets. And adding insult to injury, the players couldn’t attend the game to cheer their teammates.
Charlie’s mother, Julie Curti, says school officials reacted unfairly.
“This is really more of a quick decision made by school officials without all the facts, and not giving the respect to the students to ask them what happened,” Julie said.
Their parents are now waiting to see if the suspensions can be reduced and the tickets waived. But it’s the game they can’t get back, or the season that could have been.
“We were projected to win. We believed it,” Curti said. “It was such a golden opportunity we lost.”
Mound Westonka High School’s principal Keith Randklev says the incident is currently under investigation.
“It led to the determination that school policies were violated,” Randklev said. “As a result, consequences were issued. Some of those consequences included suspension, and school policy is a student can’t participate in school-sponsored activities.”
Randklev also confirmed that a small group of students did have approval to tape the video for an assignment, but school policies were violated during the filming.
Police are also involved in the investigation, and may make a public statement on Monday.