Johnson sentenced to six years in prison for youth basketball assault

Robin Johnson, the man who allegedly assaulted Burnsville (MN) youth basketball commissioner Jeff Shand in February, was sentenced Wednesday to a whopping six years in prison. The sentence, in part, is severe because of Johnson’s previous criminal history.

Shortly after the incident happened, most news sources reported that the catalyst that led to the argument/assault was a timing error by the clock operator. According to a story on, that wasn’t exactly the case. The story reports:

“Witnesses told police a man began taunting a player during free throws to try to make him miss, according to a criminal complaint. Jeff Shand, a parent-organizer, approached the man and told him to stop. A man, later identified as Johnson, said he could yell if he wanted, and continued yelling as the player made a throw that won the game.”

Do I have any sympathy for Johnson? Not really. I do feel for his kid, who won’t see his father for several years. I feel sympathy for Jeff Shand who didn’t deserve this. He was assaulted for doing the right thing and trying to stop a parent from taunting a sixth grader. I feel sympathy for the city of Burnsville, which once again takes a bad rap with its name in the news.

The sad reality is that people misbehave at youth basketball games frequently. Poor sportsmanship rarely mushrooms into physical violence (although the potential always seems to be simmering and could boil over at any time), but verbal violence — to referees, to other parents, coaches and kids — or the THREAT of physical violence is commonplace in the Twin Cities and, most assuredly, on basketball courts across the country.

When I wrote ”BasketCases: How Youth Basketball Parents Can Lower Their Blood Pressure and Keep Their Sanity,” it wasn’t to specifically prevent incidents like this. I wrote it to improve the youth basketball experience across the country for parents, coaches, players and officials. In the book I mention the 85/14/1 percent ratio: 85 percent of the individuals involved with youth basketball are good people who contribute to a positive experience, 14 percent have issues that make it unpleasant for the rest of us and 1 percent are so out of line that they embarrass themselves an ruin the experience for everyone else.

Could Robin learn from reading BasketCases? Of course, but I doubt he would read it. I can’t help those who don’t want to be helped. I like to focus on the 99 percent of people who can benefit from this book. If you know people involved with youth basketball make sure you tell them about BasketCases.

Below is a link to the full story on about the Robin Johnson sentencing.



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