Utah cheer squads beware: adopt traditional Tongan dance into your routine at your own risk.
A group of high school students at a recent football game wound up getting pepper-sprayed for dancing the haka, according to the Deseret News.
A group of Tongan students came out to see a friend play in the last game of the football season. When the team lost, the group decided to perform the haka to raise the deflated spirits of their friend’s team.
A police officer on the scene tried to get them to stop by walking into the crowd of shouting fans. Fans pressed the officers to let the teenagers continue, but within a few seconds, the police officer whipped out pepper spray and doused the dancers. A YouTube video shows the melee:
The Associated Press reports that the police said the incident is under investigation, and anyone wanting to lodge a complaint should contact the department.
The haka is a traditional war cry meant to scare the enemy. But it has since become a traditional sports cry performed at the beginning of rugby and football games around the world. Here’s New Zealand’s take from 2004:
Correction of the day: I should have said the battle cry is performed at the start of the game, not the end. I was mistakenly waylaid by this performance at the end of the Rugby World Championships in 2011. There is an amazing collection of Haka performances on YouTube. Including this poor guy who lost a bet and had to perform the haka in Times Square.