Another item for the annals of “people take football way too seriously.”
A town that found encouragement in its winning high school football team after the devastation of Superstorm Sandy was left to absorb another blow Tuesday after school officials canceled the season over allegations of bullying, intimidation and harassment among players.
The rest of the story is about how sad and upset everyone is…about the cancellation, not about the bullying, intimidation and harassment. They want their football and they don’t care about bullying, intimidation and harassment. That’s fucked up.
“There was enough evidence that there were incidents of harassment, of intimidation and bullying that took place on a pervasive level, on a wide-scale level and at a level at which the players knew, tolerated and generally accepted,” Superintendent Richard Labbe told reporters Monday night. “Based upon what has been substantiated to have occurred, we have canceled the remainder of the football season.”
Labbe said he could not discuss the investigation, and the prosecutor’s office has declined to release details. No charges have been filed, but Labbe said Prosecutor Andrew Carey told him there is credible evidence to back up the allegations of bullying and harassment within the program.
Maybe there’s something about football that isn’t good for people? Maybe it fosters aggression, and that fosters other kinds of aggression, like bullying and harassment?
Corinne Kalev, whose daughter attends the middle school adjacent to high school, said football is a big part of fall for the town.
“I think the parents might be more upset than the kids, because this might be these kids’ future,” Kalev said. “Some of them are really good players and it seems like because of a couple of kids, the whole team is being punished.”
This is a school we’re talking about. The job of schools is to teach. Football is peripheral. It’s recreation. It’s sport. It’s not the core of the school. Most kids’ futures are based far more on what they learn in the classroom than it is on football.
Labbe said Monday he was sending a message with his decision.
“We need all of our student-athletes, all of our students, heck, all students in the state, in this nation, to understand that the one true way to stop bullying is for those bystanders to do the right thing and become up-standers and report to an adult or someone at an authority level of what is going on.”
That’s more important than having a football season. A lot more important.