NJ High School Football Cancels Season Over Hazing Charges. Should They Close the Program For Good?

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October 14, 2014 by gregrabidoux2013

NJ school

Maybe there’s an app that could have prevented what happened inside the football team locker room.

What would you do if your kid was a victim of sexual assault? What if your kid was the one doing the assaulting?

Well, District Superintendent Richard Labbe, has, by his own admission, a “very difficult, very important” decision to make. Rocked by allegations of criminal sexual assault by Sayreville War Memorial High School football team members upon fellow players, Dr. Labbe has already canceled the remaining games of this season.

Now this year’s season-ending cancellation could turn into a permanent ban.

In other words, the championship teams of this small, football-frenzied community could be just that, a thing of the past. Never again.

nj hazing labbe

First and ten or 4th and never again?

And this apparent “hazing” gone wrong, criminally wrong, has this town more riled up than ever. More so, even when it faced cross-town rival, Middlesex HS for football bragging rights.

“Much ado about nothing,” says one parent. “Punishing the whole team and town for a few bad apples.” says another. Matt Stanmyre, a local sports reporter says that many of the townspeople still disagree with the decision and it has “torn the town apart.”

Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew Carrey begs to, no, demands to, differ.

Based on the experiences of at least 4 victims, all first-year football players, this was not a case of “boys being boys.” Unless of course, the “boys” in question are sadistic, violent criminals.

Because, yeah, according to the prosecutor things were that bad inside the locker room. A loving parents’ nightmare to be sure.

NJ football hazing town meeting

Concerned parents and students at the town meeting to decide the team’s fate.

Apparently, the “ringleaders” of the hazing were all senior players. They would shut the lights off then howl like wolves and “pounce” upon an unwilling and unsuspecting first-year teammate. The “hazing” would then begin. This would involve the victim being physically held down and restrained while another “wolf” would sexually assault the victim. This criminal behavior included forced oral and anal penetration and improper sexual touching. Some of the players claim that the seniors would even shove their fingers into the mouth of their victim after using those same fingers to conduct such assault and bodily, anal penetration. One player who attempted to break away from such an assault was kicked by several of his fellow players until he “took it like a man.”

The first-year players all “lived in fear” every day of football practice said a parent of one of the victims.

I guess so. How any of them could even function on a day to day basis let along study playbooks and have to be alongside such abusive and sadistic individuals is unfathomable to me.

And not something that anyone, boy or girl, should have to endure. Of that I am certain.

bullying pic girls

Wrong at any age. Any gender.

All of the students involved ranged in ages 15-17. So, now it will be up to the prosecutor and the courts whether they will be charged as adults or juveniles. If charged and convicted as adults, those found guilty would then do jail time. Real time. And not in a juvenile detention center or half-way home, as some in the community are arguing would be more appropriate.

Aside from the charges and upcoming legal process the fallout continues, collectively and individually.

As a town, this local, football-loving community of Sayreville will never be the same. Whether football comes back next season or is shut-down for good, the innocence, the unbridled joy in cheering for the team on Friday nights is gone. Even if the program is gutted and all new faces and coaches replace the current ones, the questions will remain, the suspicion will linger.

Ironically, or maybe very fittingly, Penn State University, which knows far too well the stench of scandal, announced it was withdrawing the football scholarship of Myles Hartsfield, a senior running back at the high school. Even the whiff of more sexual scandal is, let’s face it, the last thing PSU needs now.

UNC joe paterno

Because there’s just never a wrong time to do the right thing.

Players who are now all grown-up with kids of their own, fondly remember playing for the current Sayreville football coach George Najjar. “Sure,” says one of the alums, “Some hazing went on, but it was mostly paddling…harmless stuff.” “I doubt coach knew,” added another.

But, he should have known even if he didn’t actually know. As someone in responsibility for both the teaching and safety of teen-age boys, “Coach” doesn’t get a free pass. Not knowing or maybe knowing and looking the other way when it comes to locker-room hazing, especially the kind that turns into criminal, sexual assault, is no excuse. Kids of all ages are pretty street-smart. They size up adults and situations very fast. And if you are an “absentee adult” either at home, in school or inside the locker room, some, not all, but some, will make you and others pay dearly for your “benign neglect.”

Look, I don’t profess to understand hazing. I blogged about fraternity hazing a few months ago that ended with a male pledge dead from blows to the head by his fellow “brothers for life.” Then and now I get the role alcohol may play in dizzying some otherwise good kids into doing things they wouldn’t do sober.

sorroity hazing

It’s not cool. It’s not a rite of passage. It’s just stupid.

But. Still. I don’t get the sexual sadism, the brutality, the sheer vicious behavior that some are still trying to condone as “boys will be boys” style hazing.

It’s not and never will be.

This isn’t snapping a towel here or there and trading “your mama” jokes.

If what is being alleged is true then it is criminal sexual assault. And this has no place in our society or locker rooms. Whether it be girls or in this case, boys, as victims. For too long, we seem to come out trumpets blaring when such abuse is directed at girls and we tend to downplay it when it comes to our young men. “Take it like a man,” we seem to be echoing by our own societal indifference or lack of aggressive follow-up what the “wolves” yelled at their teammate victims.

NJ football hazing 2 women

Parents expected a visit to the ball game not to the police station.

I do feel bad for the good folks and families at Sayreville whose kids just wanted to play football and whom they just wanted to be there in the stands cheering them on.

The problem was no one was there for them off the field for far too long. No one was protecting them, not from tough tackles from the other team but from vicious sexual assaults at the hands of the own teammates.

And that is the real tragedy here. Not whether or not football is banned for good at Sayreville War Memorial High School.

Recently, some of the townspeople held a rally with balloons, stickers and ribbons on behalf of the victims in this case. Now, moving forward, far from the media, the hoopla, the ribbons, I hope parents and kids of this town get together privately and talk about what happened. And why it is wrong and utterly unacceptable. And how to make sure something like this never happens again.

Then, regardless of whether SWM HS ever raises another championship banner again they will have turned this “loss” into a victory for kids everywhere.

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40 thoughts on “NJ High School Football Cancels Season Over Hazing Charges. Should They Close the Program For Good?

  1. Patricia B says:

    i agree 100%. To me, this is not about a football program. It is about the moral standards with which we are raising our children. What has happened to our society if these young men felt that this was “acceptable” behavior? Or, if they understood it was wrong but had the attitude that they could get away with it because of who or what they were? This terrifies me for my grandchildren and their safety.

  2. Rebecca L says:

    This story makes me groan so deeply and I don’t possess adequate language to express the myriad of emotions it evokes. Anger, disgust, sorrow,… My son is a football player. A sophomore. I hate the sport with a passion. Under the best of circumstances, it’s barbaric, dangerous, and negatively affects the boys’ school work. This story out of NJ is unfathomable. The scars should be so deeply held in the community that there is only one response: put the jerseys in a pile and torch them. I cannot accept that none of the coaches, none of the parents, none of the alumni knew. This is systemically evil. Burn it to the ground. Sorry. Was that too strong?

  3. pycarter says:

    “Take it like a man,” is what Judge or Jury needs to say to those sexual predators who are now sexual offenders when they chose to sexually assault those freshmen football players. I have no words for those who are saying let the program continue this season like nothing happened in that locker room. I’m guessing not any of the coaching staff had a hint of the hazing activities going on! What question those peoples need to be asking is “Did my son get sexually violated when he was hazed as a freshman?”. Are Saryeville authorities investigating prior years of hazing for more victims of sexual assaults? I guess it is not a big deal and “boys will be boys” until it is there son or daughter who has been sexually assaulted. I feel the public administrators are taking the appropriate actions to find resolution for the victims, the decisions on the penalty of the football program, and penalty for senior football players involved.

  4. Jacki G says:

    This is a very sad story. Like others, I find it hard to believe that no one knew something was going on and/or no one was suspicious.

    This unfortunate event does have implications for the rest of us. I bet there might just be another high school out there where similar things are going on. Whether, it is physical, sexual, or mental/emotional abuse, I highly doubt this is the only case.

    I grew up playing sports and never once experienced anything like this. I strongly believe that sports provide so many lessons to children. I learned the importance of teammwork, the true meaning of sore loser, the importance of being a good winner, the qualities behind a good leader, just to name a few. To me, that is what sports is about. They SHOULD build character. Unfortunately this is a prime example of abusing power and being a horrible leader.

    Dr. R.-I never understood what goes behind hazing either. However, I did read an article once that compared hazing in fraternities to genital mutilation of an African tribe. The mutilation was a rite of passage for young boys in this particular community to become men. It was simply a part of their life. Like fraternities, hazing is a rite of passage that results in inclusion to a group. The more pain endurred, the stronger the members feel towards their group.

    I know that sounds like an odd comparison, but the author (which I wish I could remember, I think it was Social Psychologist Meyers) attempts to make the point that although we might find genital mutilation to be barbaric, the psychological principles behind rites of passage are similar to things that occur in America every day, and are not seen as barbaric at all. I still dont know that I fully comprehend the necessity of either, but it did explain the principles behind the actions.

  5. Theresa L says:

    This is an awful story:/ It makes me really sad that a team of players would go to this extent. Obviously the Seniors of the team thought this was funny in some odd way but this is definitely the definition of a “sick joke”. I agree with some of the parents that only the kids committing such a crime should be facing the consequences. I think it was smart for the Superintendent to cancel the rest of the season so that the school can assure the safety of their kids and diffuse all issues with the whole situation. To remove the sport entirely is a little absurd. I grew up playing soccer and it taught me some long life lessons. Playing as a team was the happiest time of my life. I made some of my greatest friends doing so. Also, Football is THE sport. It defines America and creates great spirit for the entire school system to be apart of. I think it would cause great catastrophe to remove the sport from the NJ school system. I definitely think as they cancel the rest of this season, Coach can meet with parents and discuss ways with the community as to how he is going to monitor the locker rooms and all behavior going on between the players. “Boys will be boys”…but this generation needs to learn a thing or two about leadership and what is morally right.

  6. Khari L says:

    I think the code of conduct needs to be reviewed. The city of New Jersey has a major problem in their school districts. Discipline within the school’s need to be strengthened in a hurry. The majority of the players should not have to suffer because of a few seniors acting dumb. When I was in high school the only thing we made freshmen do was carry the senior’s shoulder pad or buy lunch. The problems lies in the head football coach allowing this to happen. In order to get to a level of physical harm, the levels of violent acts had to escalate somewhere. The coaching staff had to have swiped activities under the rug at some point. The team building activates were mint to put freshmen in their place and promote team building activates. The continued hazing caused freshman to automatically show respect toward the seniors and the football program. The anti-bullying campaign can only go so far in protecting kids. What about the seniors who all were report 18 years of age? They may face up to 20 years in prison and be registered as sexual offender. I do not think the entire season should go to waste because of the incident. Students with potential college offers being lost, students may need to look towards other ideas on entering college. The small town of New Jersey has better things to attend to other than aggravated sexual assault. Hopefully this can blow by in the next few months.

  7. junior j says:

    Everything about this act of violence is just unacceptable. Young adults showing such hate and committing such heinous act of violence are only showing what kind of adults they will grow into. Inflicting such pain and having no remorse is sick and those young adults should be punished. Nothing should excuse the students actions and the judicial system as well as the school system needs to rectify this wrong not to repair their own image but to bring forth justice for those students who had to endure vicious and ugly act of sexual assault.

  8. Erich C says:

    Obviously this is a disturbing story on many accounts. I played HS football in Indiana on a team that was very successful and Interdisciplinary Education degree that includes Physical Education & Coaching so I understand the dynamics of HS football form a player’s and coach’s perspective.The Biggest question I have regarding these events is where were the coaches? There should be no point in time where a group of teenage boys should be left unsupervised, period. If the coaches did not know what was going on then the coaches were not doing their job. Even in 1988 there was always at least one assistant coach assigned to the locker room because coaches were smart enough to know that boys need supervision. In college I was taught not to leave locker rooms unsupervised. Being a man, I would be responsible to supervise the boys and If I were coaching girls I would need to find a female to supervise the girls. I believe that the coaches knew that hazing was going on and they turned their back to it.
    More disturbing than the lack of supervision is the lack of morals displayed by the kids. Obviously parents are failing if multiple children are sexually assaulting other children. Somehow parents have not taught their children about what is right and wrong. Sports are supposed to teach about the rewards of hard work and sportsmanship, not about selfishness and rape. Without proper coaching and parenting sports programs can create monsters, not hard working respectful citizens.

    In this case the football season should have been suspended because the product of the team is not good and respectful because of parenting and coaching. All of the football coaches should be fired and new ones hired. Kids that are involved with sports in this school should have ethics and sportsmanship training annually as part of any sports program.

    This is very sad for the kids and parents who are innocent in this matter but unfortunately the problem is not just a few bad apples, its also the farmers who grew the bad apples & threw them in the basket. Problems like this are cultivated and do not just suddenly spring up out of the blue. I think that the superintendent realized that this problem was deeper than a few bad kids and made the proper call for this year.

  9. Chris R says:

    While in college I had roommates who were in fraternities. I had a few good discussions about hazing with them which helped cement my idea that there is no place for it in any organization. I understand the need to initiation, which I define as having a relevant cause that is consistent among all inductees annually maintaining a certain level of respect. This includes memorizing charters, doing a certain amount of charity work, paying dues, etc. However hazing, from my admitted limited perspective, seems to be one last hurrah of the departing members of an organization (in this case high school football) on incoming members. It seems to be a way to compensate being ejected from a certain way of life by forcing misery in non consistent ways on persons incoming. Hazing is not a way to get respect as none is given to those it is demanded from. It is a series of inane tasks that would have zero tolerance if even hinted at being suggested to someone outside the organization.

    With that being said, I understand that hazing isn’t going anywhere. The culture around it fully embraces what it feigns to be and encourages it. However, generally this happens with adults who know it “comes with the territory” and that some people abuse the new limited supervision and expanded freedom in their lives. What is unsettling with this story is the ages of the people involved. While I do not think that this coach has a responsibility to be babysitter of these young boys, it is his responsibility to have a good idea of what is going on in the organization he heads and to a lesser extent it is an understood responsibility that he would take an interest in their well being. Parents as well knew their kids “feared” practices and should have said something as well. I also think that the high school seniors should be tried as adults. They fully understood what they were doing at that age. If their actions are taken seriously and they are tired as adults, hopefully the town will begin to address the issues which led to this and hopefully, further down the road, the game can be reintroduced. But next season probably should be a break to find a new coach and put in some hard work on the field to set some policies into position that would help to negate a repeat of this and set an example for other high schools.

  10. Joshlyn D says:

    Good afternoon,

    I hope all is well. First I would like to say; this totally hit home and disgusted me all at the same time. I am one who does not like bullying of any sort, hazing, and definitely do not stand for sexual assault whether its male of female. I cannot believe individuals 15-17 years of age even thought this would be okay as an act of hazing. To enforce physical bodily harm to other in gain of being a part of a team is sickening and I feel all involved should be punished. The victims of this incident will be scarred for life. So young, probably scared, probably confused, and angry all at the same time.
    As I stated before, I don’t condone hazing. Not for teams, not for sororities, not fraternities, not for anything! Hazing is just an excuse for others who are in a higher position to basically bully and or torment ones wanting to be apart of whatever they have established. Sororities and Fraternities all scream unity, brotherhood and sisterhood. If that’s the case how come you have to beat me, make me pay your rent, call upon me in the wee hours of the morning, and verbally abuse me just to name a few, for me to be a sister or brother? How are the cruel acts relevant and ignite unity?
    Seriously think about it, brothers and sisters of the same mother and father don’t physically abuse one another until a life is lost, or verbally abuse until the other commits suicide, or even in this case perform cruel and intentional acts of sexual assault. Give and take they might snitch on you for sneaking a cookie, pinch you for getting them in trouble, or take one of your favorite toys but nothing that will cause you a lifetime of emotional distress. The same applies to teams and teammates. They’re supposed to uplift, encourage, motivate, and help one another achieve the ONE goal, to WIN! To help each other become better in all aspects on the field and off. I feel that there should be NO program permanently. Like mentioned above; the town will never be the same.
    Even if the program where to return, the thoughts, the rumors of what happened, and the reformation of a new program will haunt the cheering on Friday nights. Sad to say the acts of a few senior players went entirely too far and beyond the community could bear. I strongly feel all seniors involved should be prosecuted and tried as adults. Its 2014 and they’re are at ages where you know wrong from wrong and right from right. When has sexually assaulting someone been appropriate or right in ANY case? Those kids went too far and it was not acts of innocence. My heart and condolences goes out to the victims and their families. I hope that they and town can slowly but surely get over this unfortunate event and become whole once again.

  11. Tinisha S says:

    This situation saddens me deeply to know that our young people, well in this case young men, believe that this is acceptable behavior. I am aware of the hazing, although I don’t agree with the method, however I don’t just blame the staff I blame the parents as well. Somewhere down the road one or some of these kids have seen such behavior or have been a victim of such behavior, leaving the question where was the parents when such behavior took place outside of school? I agree with administrators for canceling the season however, I don’t believe that banding the sport as a whole is the best option. Banding the sport will only hurt the future kids who simply still just want to play football. The administration should definitely change the coaching staff and increase security and supervision in all areas where the students will be practicing, showering, and performing at games.

  12. I would have shut down the program long ago. I find it hard to believe that former participants of the program who graduated and moved on to greater things never thought to right their wrongs and shed some light on what was going on at their Alma Mater. And you always have to ask, where were the families in each of these incidents? Does such an intense disconnect in communications among families that tell-tale signs were not apparent? Or did the parents turn a blind eye because Friday night’s city lights were more important to the fabric of the community than doing the right thing? They just as well have posted a sign inside the locker room, much like the infamous Las Vegas phrase, and that is “what happens in the locker room, stays in the locker room.” That obviously was the mentality, nothing more than a bullying mentality. Hazing is a crime, not a rite of passage, and with hazing being almost a daily occurrence in the news, shame on these parents, coaches and administrators for not keeping tabs on their program to prevent such emotional stress occurring to many, and sexual assaults to others. For shame, Sayreville War Memorial High School, for shame.

  13. vtshipman says:

    This is a terrible situation that made me so upset that I had to calm down before responding. Of course they should put the football program on hold. This was a crime and those responsible should be punished to the full extent of the law. I can’t imagine why the younger players didn’t quit the team as this type of behavior increased. It was almost like a club that someone forced you to be a member. Peer pressure – I doubt it. It was fear of being hurt worse that kept they young boys from talking. May God help us if there are people who claim this is a ‘boys will be boys’ issue.

  14. Brandi S says:

    This is so sad and cruel. No child should have to experience something like this. I think that the football program needs to be shut down for a while. If this school had a strong program no way this kind of stuff would be happening. I know where I am from our football team is like a brotherhood and they all stick together as a united front. We have a strong football program on and off the field. I feel so sorry for the victims involved and the ones that were doing this should be punished No slaps on the wrists for this type of behavior.

  15. Lisa H says:

    I live in the area. I have friends and neighbors that played on the team. While it’s a tough blog to get through Dr. Rabidoux makes strong points. I am torn. But I have heard the ‘boys will be boys” argument. Well, not my boys. Good riddance to the football program I say.

  16. C. Williamson says:

    I dont know How fair it is to close down an entire program. But it appears they need a house cleaning of coaches and all involved. Also some type of counseling and training has to be applied. To have these types of actions occur and at the high school level is horrible. Boys will be boys, but in this case we need to treat some of them like men within the justice system to insure everyone understands the consequences of violating another human being.

  17. imcdpa says:

    I agree – shut down the program. It’s systemic and a culture issue. Sadly, hazing and this sort took another life when my alma mater, SUNY Albany, reported this week that a student there died from too much alcohol consumption, likely egged on by friends? That being said, this bullying type stuff goes on all the time. When I was in high school playing basketball there was some rite of passage stuff, but anal penetration? This is sick, sadistic stuff. We had to clean lockers, carry equipment, or pick up after practice or get a crappy locker location. Yes, maybe there was some pushing around, some dares, etc. But nothing substantive to this level in NJ. Youth sports in general is out of control and I know as I coach and teach basketball to youngsters. A parent of a kid on my team (of 8 year olds) came up to me after our 2nd practice, agitated that the offense I was teaching the kids (pass and cut, the most elementary offense you can run/teach) was “not the offense the high school runs.” Seriously people!?

  18. B. Alston says:

    To read about these acts committed by young persons saddens me. The lack of respect for others and blatant lack of humanity brings tears to my eyes for the kids who endured such acts. Yet, on the other hand for those who committed such, a lesson must be learned from this behavior. It is unfortunate that the youth who were not involved must suffer the consequence of not being able to play football and the parents who were hopeful for their students, but, this becomes a community issue and attention is needed.

    Top athletes in Blackfoot, Idaho a small farmtown are now rattled at a similar situation facing top State athletes that were allegedly involved in sexually assaulted younger members of the high school basketball team in the locker room and on the bus. Apparently in Idaho, the sexual penetration with a foreign object is punishable with life in prison. That’s something to think about before one “initiates” the rookies.

  19. callen m says:

    This is truly a disgusting and sad story. My heart is broken for these children and their parents. I do feel that these children involved need to be punished and held accountable for their actions and I completely agree with the closing of the current football season. However, I do not agree with shutting down the entire program for good. As a member of a sorority in college I had my fair share of fun and ritual. I was never a victim of harmful or degrading hazing like this, but our chapter was put on probation for an annual pledge event that we held that did not comply with national rules. We suffered the consequences of our actions and were put on probation for 1 year. I understood the punishment and felt it was just for our actions. Looking at this story with my personal experience in mind I do not think closing our chapter would have been beneficial in the long run. We were punished and it was corrected. Closing down the football program for good will only hurt those at younger ages who are to come along. If they choose to close it down until all members that are currently involved have graduated then so be it, but to punish a student that might one day play for the program in 10 years does not make much sense to me. If our chapter had been completely closed young girls who were merely freshmen in high school at the time we served our suspension would not be able to have the fun bonding experience of joining the chapter at this current time.

  20. Jocelyn D says:

    Being sexually assaulted is nothing to take lightly at all. I feel that yes the season should be cancelled to get a handle on this especially if it has been going on for along time. I feel that canceling the program forever is nothing something worth doing because at some point you have to move on and not let it happen again. I believe that they should suspend it for four years so that a new class can come in and they won’t have the same issue. Hazing has gotten out of hand in this decade people have so much aggression and they tend to find this as a way to take it out on people which is wrong. I believe that the ones that were involved should be prosecuted indefinitely there should be no if and’s or but about that because that is not okay. I believe that the parents and the teachers that are in the town need to step and figure things out as a community because this is something that can make or break a community. It will be hard to get over especially the people whom its happen to.

  21. Luke E says:

    This is a terrible story. I remember the first time the story broke. I was busy doing something and only caught half the story. In the beginning, I thought this was harmless, typical seniors giving juniors a hard time. It was later I realized the severity of the hazing that was dealt and endured. My heart truly goes out to the victims of sexual assault abroad and on this football team. It’s even more jarring when one thinks about the benefits and lessons we can learn from team sports. Nearly every benefit of being apart of a team is washed away when there is such contempt from teammate to teammate. What has happened here is truly appalling. These events aren’t just isolated to the football team. The members of the team attend school, live, work, and play in this community. These young men should not have been subjected to this. These actions poison the well. There is no telling how long something like this had been going on. The “I do it because it was done to me” narrative can be dangerous and is especially in this case. At the very least, the school should arrange for victims to receive professional help. I understand school budgets are tight. However, I’m sure there are counselors who would be more than willing to do some pro bono work. The athletic director and every football coach should be fired immediately, and finally the football program should be suspended for four to six years. At the end of the day these actions are doable and are fair. I think the student who did the victimizing should be punished severely. These students should be able to finish high school, but should serve some real jail time and get counseling.

  22. Tricia P says:

    Rarely does something like this happen because of a few ” bad apples,” as one parent from the community said. Actions like these reflect deeper, larger, and probably deeply ingrained unsaid beliefs. Maybe banning future games is not only the right choice, but the responsible one. The school could benefit from counseling to try to get to the root of these beliefs and see if any changes can be made. By focusing on something other than football, the students could learn greater lessons about life and the choices they make.

  23. Kinsley M says:

    It really depresses me that those young “adults” would think that is okay. I understand the certain rights of passage, I was on sports teams in high school; but there is a clear difference between pranking and hazing and I don’t agree with hazing. I really don’t think that people understand that these high school seniors RAPED those boys. I think every one of those boys, who did the hazing, should go to jail. If that doesn’t happen, they should have any athletic scholarship taken away from them. As far as getting rid of the football program all together, they shouldn’t do that. That’s basically punishing everyone on the team for something they were never apart of. Football, or a sport in general, is more about the games.

  24. Caleigh M says:

    Sexual assault is a very serious matter and for me to read this story just makes me cringe. However, I don’t feel that they should close the football program. There are other teammates that did not partake in this cruel and horrific event, and those players should not be punished. Not only should the remaining innocent players suffer, but neither should the future players for the program. For instance, 10 years down the road, you have boys who want to go out for football at this high school, but they can’t because of some brutal event that happened 10 years prior. I know everyone always says, “Life’s not fair,” but to make current and future players who are innocent suffer because of some one else’s wrongdoings, is wrong.

  25. Donterrell E says:

    Wow, this is a shocking story to me. First off, how in the world a coach not know? Out of 100+ players on the team at least one person had to tell or word got out about it. I feel the football program should not be punished for a few people bad doings. Only the people that were involved and coaches that knew about it should be punished. This “take it like a man” crap is just non-sense, who wants to just sit there and be abused and have horrible sexual things done to them. Any of those seniors that got scholarships to go play college ball, that should be taken away.

  26. Sydney E says:

    Reading this article just made me feel for this town and what they must be going through. the statement “Boys will be boys” does not justify any reason for a boy (or anyone for that matter) to be sexually assaulted. Does it mean that it’s okay for just anyone to be sexually assaulted and get away with it? No, these boys deserve jail time for their cruel and illegal doings. also, it’s unbelievable that no one knew of the locker room hazing situation going on. As a coach of high school boys he should have already known not to leave them unattended but to check in on them as other things like steroids, drugs, etc. could be going around. I don’t see the football program being punished for others wrong doings but I do see how it could be viewed as something you don’t want to cheer on for a while. As for each person (player or coach) involved in the illegal doings they deserve punishment.

  27. chester m says:

    As a former high school and college football player I do not believe the football program should be taken away. I believe the bad people should be punished but not everyone. I don not understand how a coach is not that involved in what’s going on within his team. I believe this school needs a fresh start of a football program. I would put the program on hold until I got new coaches and staff but I would not want the football players Ro surfer because some players are trying to get scholarships to attend college.

  28. Ashley J says:

    I do not think the program should be taken away. Sports are a very important outlet for kids and i don’t think a group should ruin it for future kids and future athletes.

  29. alifox says:

    This blog was very hard to get through…I cannot believe the ” boys will be boys” and “take it like a man” statements people have made. Seriously? This blows my mind. Why is there any doubt they should be tried as adults? Seniors are grown men, they should be almost or old enough to vote. As far as getting rid of the football team I do not think that is the answer. Sports are an important physical activity and can lead to scholarship opportunities for students in need.

  30. bcferguson says:

    It seems to me that hazing seems to happen less but each incident seems to be more vulgar, mean spirited, and abusive than the last. As as society I believe that we have become overprotective, but this is criminal. Cancel the season, fire the coach and maybe the principal too, and put the monsters on trial. We have become too desensitized to violence. Many kids today see so much violence in the programs that they watch and the video games that they play relentlessly, they actually think that it’s okay to brutalize someone else in the name of hazing. Some were hazed and now it’s their chance at payback. This just makes me sad, because it could have been prevented.

  31. Kelsey G says:

    Hazing is a very serious issue that should be addressed. This is more than just football. It may start off as a rights of passage for first year players but it could grow into something so much more and become way more extreme. The fact that the program was shut down was a very good idea in my opinion. This program has obviously been having hazing issues for years and no one has done anything about it. This is the first step to putting the hazing to an end. When people notice they will have real consequences from their actions and not just let things get swept under the rug people will learn this is not okay. I am sure many students probably will not speak up about the hazing that is taken place because they want to fit in but it will not make the person a better person nor player. It is sad that the students who were innocent and did not take part in these activities were punished by not having the opportunity to play football because of a few but it could have been a matter of time before they were the next victim. I hope that the students know this is not okay and learn from the others mistakes.

  32. Brent S says:

    It’s because of absentee adults, and criminal minds that these situations occur. There is no excuse for the coaches or the attackers in this situation. I have no sympathy for the attackers if they were to be charged as adults, and I believe they should. They deserve serious jail time for their disgusting hazing acts. I believe the coaches should be removed, whether they knew about the hazing or not. It’s hard to believe that the coaches knew nothing about the howling like wolves, and the sexual assaults in the locker rooms. I don’t buy it. Remove the coaches, put a black mark on their record, and charge the attackers as adults. Make the attackers serve serious jail time.

    Now, for the football program. I agree with the parent that said there is no reason to punish the whole team for a few bad apples. I believe the football program should remain, just as the Penn State football program is still present. By removing the coaches and attacker, the school can start fresh. Though these events will remain in the minds of the football players around at that time, they will eventually graduate. What happens with the youth players hoping to one day play on the football program. By dismantling the football program, the superintendent will punish the whole community, not just the attackers and coaches.

  33. Thomas R says:

    You really hate to see things like this happen. I know I am bias but there is not another sport in the world that can teach discipline, teamwork, trust, respect, and accountability the way football can. Ask anyone who has played. I know its my opinion but I think it is a great sport. And America’s youth needs these traits that I have spoken of. Our whole country needs them. But when you see an act of violence like this ruin it for the majority it really upsets me. What these boys did was disgusting and there is no place for that kind of behavior in our society. They should be handled and disciplined in a stern way. I have been around football my whole life and I think any kind of initiation like this is crazy. I personally have never seen anything like this and honestly couldn’t imagine what would lead these boys to do something like this. What you hate to see is the whole program being shut down. When something like this happens maybe it’s for the better. I know one thing, the administration and coaches in high school sports need to have a handle on their locker rooms. Things like this should never take place and you always wonder what could have been done to prevent something of this nature. There are no winners in a case like this and that is the sad part.

  34. Kyle G says:

    This is nothing short of tragic for all involved- the victims, the families, school, and athletic program. I feel that the perpetrators should be charged as adults. They knew perfectly well that what they were doing was wrong and illegal, but I don’t think they knew that there would be life-long ramifications for their actions. However, shutting down the program was exactly what needed to be done but only temporarily. It’s a tough position to try to fully assess. There could have been seniors on the team that were not involved in any way, but they lost their senior season because of a few bad eggs. I feel horrible for them, but at the same time they should have told someone due to the whole ‘guilty by association’ mantra. I think the team should be reinstated, only after a probation period. Everyone that hoped to continue playing or play the next season (including victims) should participate community service. There are many reasons for this: it may help victims recover by doing good things for others-it truly is food for the soul, accomplishing something together such as building a home with Habitat for Humanity could help them bond and very slowly begin to rebuild trust, and it shows the community that they are now striving to be more than a good football team but better citizens. Also, players AND coaches would have to attend sexual assault forums. Finally, the coaches would be monitored and checked-in pertaining to negligence and presence among the team activities.
    These upperclassmen players have taken away what is surely one of the most important things to the community, their teammates (especially the younger ones), their school, and their families. Harmless hazing- in this case, not harmless at all, either physically or emotionally- took a major turn for the worse. While the consequences have been harsh and included ending the program, one student losing a D-I scholarship, and dividing a community, they just aren’t enough. Even if the team is reinstated, it needs to have a new outlook and purpose. Honestly, I feel the coach should be “let go” no matter how many championships he has coached the team to. How can an adult not hear the screams of the victims or know that there was serious tension and fear between teammates? They cut the lights off for long periods of times, did he not find that odd? He has got to go! What if these handful of guys had STDs and now half the team was infected (God forbid)? No, football is not what this community needs right now, but yes, they should eventually get their team back.

  35. Veronica P says:

    I’m surprised that I hadn’t heard of this controversy sooner. I think it’s an example of what mob mentality can do to an otherwise rational human being, and just how quickly that kind of thinking can make things spiral out of control. I don’t think I’ll ever truly understand the concept of hazing and why organizations and teams seem to think it’s a good idea, regardless of what the hazing entails. If the idea is to make new members feel like they have to be loyal to the team because of what they went through, there are others ways to do that. There are ways to build a feeling of brother/sisterhood without physical harming and shaming others. It saddens me that this happened in a group of such young kids. What lessons have they been taught that makes them think this is okay? Where will they go in their lives from here? The victims will have a lifetime of shame, misplaced guilt and feelings of worthlessness to overcome. The attackers… well, I hope they all realize what they did. I hope they feel the guilt that is placed correctly, and I hope they’re able to learn and grow from it.

  36. Ambreshia says:

    To even read news like this makes me cringe in my seat. This is ridiculous for children to have to undergo this type of behavior. I agree with the decision to try the teenagers that took it upon themselves to make theses choices. As stated above i understand boys will be boys and they will exchange a couple jokes but to take someone’s manhood in a locker room just because they are new to a sport. I may be taking it a little to heart because i have a son of my own and i feel as if he will want to pursue football as a sport of interest and to put myself in the shoes of these people is heartbreaking. I agree with the decision to punish the children that took part in this just as well as the coach but i do not ultimately agree with the decision to ban the team completely. Everyone is able to benefit from hometown football games whether it involves the cheerleaders, the band, ROTC, the football players as well as the community. I feel as if banning the team for a couple of years until there is a completely new batch of players to establish a fresh start would be a better option.

  37. Welch says:

    Let me state first that I was sickened by the parent who said the whole issue was “much ado about nothing.” Any group of men on the street that walked up to another person and did what those boys did as they “hazed “the freshmen, would be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. As a police officer, I see all too often how parent’s lenient attitudes and covering for their children gives those same children the feeling that they can do whatever they wish without consequences. These boys if not stopped now are liable to turn into murderers and rapists with an ever growing victim pool. I think the attackers should be tried as adults and kicked out of school. The coach also bears some liability in this issue. Whether he knew about the hazing or not, it is his job to know the condition of his team. I find it hard to believe that not one of these boys approached him about the assaults. Even if they didn’t, he should have been able to see the tension and lack of cohesiveness of the team. Go ahead and fire him. The boys that were part of the passive bystander population should also be kicked off the team. The victims and other boys in the school that want to play football should not be punished by their not being a team. This is one of those situations where the school could literally rise from the ashes.

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