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Journalist Rips Special-Needs Football Player's Touchdown

Some of you may have heard about a kid named Ike Ditzenberger, a Snohomish High School football player from Snohomish, WA.

Ditzenberger is the high school football player with Down Syndrome who last week got to make the play of a lifetime against our rival Lake Stevens Vikings. I say “our” rival because I graduated from Snohomish High School and am a lifetime resident of this hip little historic town.

Ike Ditzenberger, 17, was put in the game at the end of the 4th quarter after a pounding by the Vikings. The Snohomish Panthers were down 35-0, and coach Mark Perry thought it would be inspiring to all to put Ditzenberger in the game. As Ike Ditzenberger ran with the ball (at first out of bounds then all the way for a phantom TD) Lake Stevens players were great sports about it. They simulated tackles and reacted in slow motion as he cruised toward the end zone. It was a great moment in Snohomish High School football, and it was for the Vikings as well.

Ike Ditzenberger went viral. People around the world loved the story of the kid with Down Syndrome being given a chance, as his mother Kay Ditzenberger would say, “they gave him the gift of normalcy.”

Unless you have a jaded, cold heart, this story will touch you. But unfortunately for local sports writer Mike Anderton of the Lake Stevens Journal, the incident was a “mockery” that basically ruined the game for the Lake Stevens Vikings.

Mike Anderton’s story was published in the local paper on Monday, September 28th. By Tuesday a friend of mine posted  a link to his article on Facebook, and that’s when the outrage started.

Below is the original ending of Mike Anderton’s coverage of the Snohomish vs. Lake Stevens game starring Ike Ditzenberger. Later, after what I would assume were numerous complaints to the Editor (myself included), the story was edited greatly. But in the beginning, the story was anything but…

From the Lake Stevens Journal:

With 10 seconds left Snohomish inserted special needs “team mascot” player Ike Ditzenberger into the game, with instructions from the Snohomish coaching staff to let Ditzenberger have a free run.

Ditzenberger slowly rambled around in the backfield, then circled to the sidelines where he stepped out of bounds at the 50, for a one-yard gain. Game over at that point.

But no. Ditzenberger was allowed to continue rambling, and, escorted by teammates, he eventually crossed the goal line, for a phantom touchdown.

Ditzenberger merits credit for donning a Panther uniform and inspiring his fellow players and others, but awarding him an unearned touchdown makes little sense and deprives the Viking defense of its deserved shutout.

This may have been intended as a kindly gesture (Viking Coach Tom Tri said that he was not consulted about it beforehand) but it only makes a mockery of winless Snohomish.”

Where do we even start? Shall we start with the fact that Mr. Anderton refuses to even call Ike Ditzenberger a PLAYER? Calling him the team’s special needs “mascot” goes to show you what sort of person we’re dealing with here. Also, Ike Ditzenberger’s touchdown was a phantom touchdown, as he mentions, so why does this make a “mockery” of the Vikings’ shutout? It honestly made me sick to my stomach to read this man’s vile attempt to ruin such a great moment in football, and an even greater moment in Ike Ditzenberger’s life.

The Lake Stevens Journal, as I mentioned before, has since edited the sharp-tongued article, changing it drastically to an inspiring story about Ike Ditzenberger – but originally Mike Anderton was bitter, arrogant and downright nasty.

Since I’m sure none of the major publications (see below) who wrote about Ike Ditzenberger’s inspiring story will hear of the small-town sports writer who attempted to ruin it, I figured I’d use this platform to expose him and his disrespectful article. My husband is a youth football coach, and one of the things, if not THE most important thing, about football is the confidence it builds, the teamwork and the social skills that are learned. There are a lot of inspirational football stories of our time (at ALL levels) where winning had absolutely nothing to do with something miraculous/inspirational happening.

Way to go, Ike! GO PANTHERS!

Ike Ditzenberger in the news:

Player with Down Syndrome Scores TD – FOX News

A Feel Good Story – Sports Illustrated

Ike Ditzenberger, Down Syndrome Football Player, Scores TD in HS Game – Fanhouse


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