But football is a necessity of life

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.


  1. Blanche Quizno says

    My 6’4″ son went out for football last year and, when he realized how much time it would require, he voted for his studies instead and quit the team. A half a dozen other young men then quit the team – it’s like they didn’t realize they COULD quit or something. In fact, one of his friends, who had just the week before talked of hoping to be team captain that year, quit a few days after my son did. That really shocked me – “football player” had been a huge part of his apparent identity/persona. I remember him telling me that, at the end of a tackle, if someone from the other team were slow in getting up, he’d gladly stomp his hand as hard as he could with his cleats. This kid is a devout Christian hoping for a career in youth ministry, BTW. When he was talking about quitting the team, he said that football brought out the worst in him, aggression-wise. I reminded him of the hand-stomping comment. He agreed that was the sort of mindset this “game” created, and that he’d realized he didn’t want to be that guy – he wanted to “love on” people instead.

  2. Katydid says

    About 20 years ago, travel-for-work took me to the midwest. My hosts (who didn’t have kids) invited me to the local high school football game. They were season ticket holders. That was quite a shock to me–I would rather watch reruns on crappy hotel cable tv than to go worship a bunch of teenage boys.

    Flash forward a few years, and my town is talking about the importance to teens’ biological clocks to start the school day at a reasonable hour (currently, high school starts at 6:59 am). The biggest uproar? “But that will hurt the FOOTBALL PLAYERS!” (they won’t be able to get in 3 hours of practice after school if school runs 9 – 3 instead of 7 – 1). So…20 kids on a stupid sports team are going to disrupt the entire school of 4,000?

  3. zubanel says

    You know, George Carlin had something to say about this issue and though it was hilarious, it was all the more so because it was true.


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