ALBURGH, Vt. (AP) — Spectators are not allowed to attend home basketball games for the rest of the season at a middle school in northern Vermont after a brawl broke out and one of the participants died, school officials said Thursday.
“We recognize that the vast majority of spectators at our events support and model the values of teamwork, collaboration, sportsmanship, health and well-being in student activities. However, we can not ignore the increase in spectator misconduct at school sporting events throughout Vermont, including in our gymnasiums,” Grand Isle Supervisory Union administrators said in a statement.
State troopers were called to the Alburgh Community Education Center on Tuesday night after a report of a large fight involving spectators during a seventh- and eighth-grade boys basketball game between Alburgh and St. Albans.
The fight ended before troopers arrived, and many of the participants had left. Russell Giroux, 60, of Alburgh, sought medical attention, police said. He was taken by ambulance to the Northwestern Medical Center in St. Albans, where he was pronounced dead.
The administrators called their decision “difficult,” and said they would call on all leaders in Vermont to not only condemn spectator violence at sporting events “but also consider how best to respond to misbehavior by spectators; and how to better structure educational athletic events to ensure all participants, including spectators, support and exhibit the values of teamwork, collaboration, sportsmanship, and health and well-being.”
The administrators welcomed ideas about improving the current environment, calling it a “We are all participants" campaign.
The state police and Grand Isle state’s attorney’s office are investigating Giroux’s death. An autopsy was done, but the cause and manner of death are listed as pending further investigation, including toxicology testing and ongoing work by investigators, police said.
Alburgh is a town of about 2,100 in northwestern Vermont, surrounded on three sides by Lake Champlain. The northern part of the community borders Canada.