Sports reporter says he was kicked out of Salem H.S. game, wants to know why

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – A sports photographer wants an apology from a Virginia Beach school official because he says he was kicked out of a football game Thursday.

High school football games typically draw a large crowd from spectators to media. Thursday’s game at Salem High School was no different. However, one member of the media says he was kicked out. Now, he wants to know why.

“I felt low and I felt like that was a ridiculous time to try to make a stand especially with someone that’s a member of the media,” Jamaar Hawkins said.

Hawkins has worked for Recruit757 as a sports reporter for three years. He said he got to Salem High School 10 minutes before the game started. According to Hawkins, the press box was full and it was raining. So instead of getting his gear wet, Hawkins said he wanted to run to his car, get a cover, then go back in.

However, he said Mark Harrison, the Student Activities Coordinator, blocked him.

“On my way out the gate he said, ‘You’re not coming back in here,’” Hawkins said.

Hawkins admitted to 10 On Your Side, the confrontation happened during the National Anthem, but he said he was not trying to disrespect or protest it.

“He didn’t give me a proper reason behind stopping me from coming to the game. It was more so about his personal preference for me stopping during the national anthem — which I know I don’t have to. I didn’t have the time. I was just trying to do my job,” Hawkins said.

When 10 On Your Side asked Hawkins Wednesday morning about his conversation with the school official on Tuesday, he told us he was not satisfied with the school division’s response and still wants to know why he isn’t allowed back to a game at Salem High School.

10 On Your Side contacted the school division. Eileen M. Cox, Chief Media and Communications Officer responded Wednesday afternoon to our multiple requests for an interview saying via email:

I did pass on your request for an interview earlier today. Unfortunately, Mr. Harrison and Principal Matt Delaney are at VHSL meeting and are not available for an interview.

It is my understanding that Mr. Delaney left at least one message for Mr. Hawkins to arrange a meeting so that they can speak in person about last week’s Salem High School football game. I know that Mr. Hawkins did speak with the senior executive director for high schools yesterday to discuss Thursday night’s events.

Certainly, we appreciate when the media chooses to cover our student athletes and games. And, we understand that from time to time, throughout that coverage, media staff may need to enter and exit the fields multiple times. That should have happened on Thursday.  However, we do ask that when an instance arises that a reporter or photographer must leave the stadium, he or she shows an ID or media credential to gain re-entry. As a side note, the general public is not allowed to re-enter a ticketed athletic competition if they leave the stadium, gym, etc.

Also, I saw that another media outlet reported that Mr. Hawkins was escorted from the stadium. I want to clarify that when speaking to the senior executive director of high schools yesterday, Mr. Hawkins indicated that he was not escorted from the property. After being denied re-entry he asked to speak with the school resource officer and then left the premises.

Stay with 10 On Your Side for any developments.