I am sure that you have heard and/or read about the high school in New Jersey that canceled its football season after allegations of outrageous hazing activities on the football team came to light. The alleged activities are not like taping the new players to a goal post and pouring honey on their heads. Suffice it to say that some of the alleged activities were of a sexual nature that involved bodily penetration and the allegations are serious enough to have brought criminal charges in a half-dozen cases. This is not going to be any kind of rant about morality or the imminent demise of Western Civilization; there have been plenty of those presented already.
What caught my attention was a recent action taken by the school board in Sayreville, NJ. About a week ago, the school board had a public meeting and announced that the coaches of the football team would be suspended indefinitely – with pay – not as a punishment but as a means to uncover the truth in all of this.
No one should be opposed to finding the truth in all of this to determine if in fact punishments are in order. I certainly have no problem with that. Nonetheless, I have to pose a couple of questions here:
The season is canceled; there will be no football games. What exactly is the difference between a suspended football coach and a football coach whose team will play no games?
Perhaps I am just being obtuse here, but how does the act of suspending any or all of the coaches further the quest for “the truth” here?
Please do not read into those questions any sort of hint that I think the coaches are blameless here. Even if the legal processes determine that there were no criminal actions involved, there certainly existed an environment where upperclassmen bullied freshmen brazenly. Since the football coaches are employees of the School Board – or whatever that governing body happens to be called in New Jersey – they are de facto adults involved in educating the students in that community. Creating an environment where bullying is acceptable – or just as bad – being so out of touch that one does not know that bullying of this type is ongoing do not fit well in the job description of “educator”. In this case, malfeasance and nonfeasance should carry the same degree of opprobrium; the total mass of the opprobrium to be borne by the adults in charge here depend entirely on the revelation of truth that the police and the School Board seek.
[Aside: I read one report that said the head coach at this school had 12 assistant coaches. Thirteen sets of eyes and ears had no clue… What are some of the adjectives that come to your mind to describe this situation?]
Taken as a whole, the situation in Sayreville is simply a mess. According to reports, one of the victims has met with an attorney and that attorney has characterized the events as “rape”. I am not an attorney but I am confident that introducing the word “rape” into the dialog here is not going to make the revelation of truth any easier that it might have been before.
Controversy is not associated only with high school football these days. Florida State’s football program has the various issues involving Jameis Winston floating around it and yesterday, reports said that the Tallahassee Police Department has an ongoing investigation regarding domestic abuse involving RB Karlos Williams. Here is what the school had to say about that:
“The athletics department is aware of an investigation by the Tallahassee Police Department involving football student-athlete Karlos Williams. Until we receive more information regarding the alleged incident his status with the team will be under review.”
Karlos Williams is the leading rusher on the #2 ranked college football team. Pardon me for being a cynic here but I just have a feeling that Williams’ status with the team will continue to be “under review” until at least 48 hours after Florida State plays its final game of the season. The pace at which the school and the authorities there are pursuing the various incidents in Jameis Winston’s life off the football field point me in that direction.
For those who are spring-loaded to chastise me for jumping to a conclusion here, let me offer the words of H. L. Mencken on the subject of cynics:
“The cynics are right nine times out of ten.”
That is a batting average that would get one into the Hall of Fame on the first ballot…
An old adage of the newspaper business says that it is not news if a dog bites a man but it is indeed news if a man bites a dog. That adage came to mind when I read a headline on the Baltimore Sun website recently:
“NFLPA investigator Richard Craig Smith complains about lack of cooperation from NFL, Ravens”
Back when the NFL hired former FBI Director, Robert Mueller, to do an independent investigation of the way the NFL handled the Ray Rice matter, the NFLPA reacted by hiring their own independent investigator. That would be Mr. Smith referenced in the headline above. So, is anyone surprised that the NFL and the Baltimore Ravens are cooperating with the guy they hired and not cooperating with the guy that the other guys hired? More importantly:
Is Richard Craig Smith surprised?
I certainly hope not…
Finally, here is an item from Greg Cote in the Miami Herald related to a “minor error” in a TV sports report:
“Seattle TV station KOMO, airing a report on Peyton Manning breaking the TD-pass record, mistakenly showed a photo of Gary Payton. Other than the football/basketball, black/white, first name/last name and spelling differences, the report was accurate.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………