Earlier this month, eight members of the Titusvile High School baseball team in Titusville, FL were suspended and kicked off of the team for producing a ‘Harlem Shake’ video at the school’s baseball field and then posting it to YouTube. If you are not aware of what the ‘Harlem Shake’ is, it is the latest viral video fad on YouTube, where different groups basically just tape themselves dancing and acting as “silly” as possible, with costumes, props, etc. There are thousands of versions from just about every walk of life, even including military groups, politicians, and Sea World animals. While the actual video in the Titusville case was taken down off of the web, it has been described as being similar to the rest of those out there. Many media outlets have picked up this story but it was most recently covered by the Florida Today.
The justification given by the school administration was that it was an inappropriate act that was done on school property, while wearing school apparel. Even so, a suspension from school AND being dismissed from the baseball team seems a little harsh, especially when put into context. Putting the school suspension aside, let’s focus on the baseball perspective. Some of the most popular ‘Harlem Shake’ videos out there have been done by college baseball teams. If you do a search on YouTube for ‘college baseball harlem shake’, dozens of videos are shown from teams across the country. Here are a few examples.
These specific Harlem Shake videos from Cal State Fullerton, Vanderbilt, and North Florida, if you notice, were posted to YouTube by the official YouTube channels of those schools respective athletic departments. This is essentially an endorsement of these actions by the colleges. Considering the high production quality on some of them, they may have actually even been taped, edited, and produced by the school’s athletics video department.
It is hard to pass judgment without having seen the video in question regarding the Titusville players, but I think it could be safely assumed that it was very similar to those done by the college teams, in fact I think it’s likely the college baseball Harlem Shake videos inspired many of the high school versions out there (there are tons besides Titusville). It is hard to make a case for severely punishing these young high school players and kicking them off of their team for making a video emulating those that were not only made by some of the top college baseball teams in the country, but that were also condoned and promoted by the universities themselves. Even though it looks like the players will be allowed back on the team conditionally, it does not seem fair to hold high school kids to a much higher standard than their collegiate counterparts, who are not only not punished, but instead are praised for the same actions.