From our “You Belong in Jail” Files: meet Petiola Manu, a player on the Salt Lake City High East girls soccer team. Before we go into details about what happened and have people start emailing us about how things happen “in the heat of play” that we don’t understand, take a look at the video from this incident between SLC High East and Wood Cross High on October 12th.

You can clearly see that Manu and the victim, Makenzie Clark, collide as Clark is actually tearing a ligament in her ankle during the play and falls to the ground in pain, as the ball goes out of bounds. End of play, right? Instead of offering Clark a hand or checking to see if she’s okay(even turning around and walking away would be better) Manu can be clearly seen moving toward Clark and kneeing her in the head as she’s on the ground . . . and then just calmly walks away, as if nothing happened. It wasn’t a fight or part of the game, just a knee to the head of someone already on the ground.

Apparently no one on the field saw this happen in real time and Manu was neither penalized or taken out of the game right away, although her coach admits she could see the player getting emotional and eventually pulled her out. It was only when the video was posted on YouTube that things heated up for the young player. Even then though, all we have so far is a complaint from Clark’s mother and a meeting between East High’s principal Paul Sagers, the girls soccer coach and Manu.  The result? They would like to turn this into a “teaching moment” and show others how sports violence can get out of hand. “Teaching moment?” It’s called evidence against the accused. Oh, and the Utah High School Activities Association is investigating, but don’t hold your breath on that one.

For her part, Manu has half-heartily apologized claiming,  “It was a physical game and I let my emotions get the best of me. It was nothing personal. I was just really frustrated with the game. I wasn’t thinking. I was just running on adrenaline, and the game was tied at the time.”

Of course, “letting your emotions get the best of you” is pretty much the excuse of most crimes. And think about it: in any other circumstance, what Manu did to Clark would be a crime. If this happens at school, it’s assault. If it happens at the mall, it would be assault.  It was NOT part of the flow of the game, and certainly not accidental contact.

Think about it: a knee to the head, delivered a certain way, can kill someone or certainly permanently disable them. Clark is lucky she wasn’t hurt more seriously.

We don’t usually take a stand in these types of situations, but in our opinion, Manu should be banned from competing in any high school athletics if she can’t control her emotions better, regardless of whether she has ever exhibited this kind of behavior in the past or not. And if the local cops can’t or won’t bring her up on assault charges, then Clark’s parents need to file a lawsuit of some kind. The goal here though, is not to put Manu in jail, but to hopefully send a clear message that this type of behavior cannot and will not be tolerated in high school sports.

Period.

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