Hazing never has and never will have a place in sports or any setting. It would be naive to think it doesn’t happen and two recent high-profile cases, coupled with a local case last year, have pushed it back into the spotlight once again.
This week, a junior at Tamaqua High School in neighboring Schuylkill County was expelled from school for his role in a hazing incident early this month. The school board voted to expel the student this week, a few weeks after the team’s season was halted when it was forced to forfeit a playoff game due to accusations.
Along with the expelled student, others have been suspended from school. Last week, some Tamaqua students walked out of class saying the district continues to ignore bullying and other incidences.
They say what happened with the football team was not an isolated incident.
The response at Tamaqua was at least swift; the alleged event happened on a Thursday night and Friday night’s playoff game was forfeited. The events that happened in Massachusetts that have led to a national outcry happened during the 2019-20 ice hockey season.
In Danvers, Massachusetts, school officials have recently come under fire for failing to disclose details of allegations made by a former varsity hockey player. The player told authorities and news reporters that teammates engaged in racist and sexual misconduct during the season two years ago. The allegations are disgusting: The former player said that younger players were forced to strip naked and were inappropriately touched. One said he was beaten with a sex toy for refusing to shout a racial slur.
School officials there have admitted the communication with the public was poor and “fell short in terms of emphasizing the seriousness of what occurred and the District’s response, causing concern and dismay regarding a very serious set of incidents of racism, homophobia, and bullying.”
Even Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker weighed in this week, urging more transparency. “Let’s face it, there’s no place in sports, there’s no place in society for any of the issues and activities that have been alleged to have taken place,” he said.
When hazing hit the Valley last year, school officials stayed in front of the story. Mount Carmel officials, as tough as it was with a tradition-rich program like MCA’s football program, took the steps they felt were needed, canceling the rest of the season. Following an initial outcry, the team rallied, using time usually set aside for football to volunteer in the community.
A negative turned into a positive. And, more importantly, hopefully a hard lesson learned.
Hazing isn’t cool, or fun or team-building or even a rite of passage. It’s often demeaning, dangerous, divisive, disgusting and in some cases illegal.
It takes courage to stand up and say enough, but that is what it will take for cases like these to disappear.
There’s no place for it, any where, any time.
NOTE: Opinions expressed in The Daily Item’s editorials are the consensus of the publisher, top newsroom executives and community members of the editorial board. Today’s was written by Managing Editor Bill Bowman.