Census Bureayu map of Sayreville, New Jersey. Graphic via Wikimedia Commons
We write a lot of stories about people avoiding responsibility. Whether it’s BP trying to get out of paying for the Deepwater Horizon disaster or the NFL with their ongoing domestic abuse scandal, it seems as if nobody’s willing to own up when they do something wrong. This week, we have an exception to this.
Last Thursday, Sayreville War Memorial High School in Sayreville, New Jersey unexpectedly cancelled their football game against South Brunswick. The next day, Sayreville Schools Superintendent Dr. Richard Labbe said in a press conference that the cancellation was due to significant allegations reporting unacceptable conduct within the football program, and announced that the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office and the Sayreville Police were investigating the matter.
On Monday, Dr. Labbe announced that the high school football program was cancelled for the remainder of the season. “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, Based upon what has been substantiated to have occurred, we have canceled the remainder of the football season.”
The players, parents and townspeople were unhappy about this decision. You see, Sayreville is a powerhouse in New Jersey high school football; they’ve won the Central New Jersey Section IV championship three out of the last four years. The last thing they wanted to see was their prize football team being told they can’t play again this year.
On Tuesday night, the school board met, and unanimously approved Dr. Labbe’s decision. School board president Kevin Ciak said; “It’s a sad situation to be in, but I really believe, at the end of the day, when we come back next year, it will be with a stronger sense of commitment and character.”
Of course, there were numerous people who disagreed. Derek Rodriguez, a senior on the team, said: “We’re not going to have that closure of finishing our senior year and going out like we wanted to go out. It got taken from us for something that we didn’t even know that was going on.”
Madeline Valet, the mother of one of the team captains, said; ““No one was hurt, no one died. I don’t understand why they’re being punished… I don’t believe the punishment fits the crime.”
We beg to differ. Any form of hazing is unacceptable, and if the police and county prosecutors are involved, we’d think that it goes beyond mere hazing. As it happens, it definitely goes way beyond that. We’d like to think that the parents and townspeople didn’t know about the actual facts before they shot off their mouths. As for the players’ denials, who do they think they’re kidding?
Occupy World Writes applauds Dr. Labbe and the rest of the school board for taking the only truly moral stand over this. For the people who are upset that the season’s cancelled – you are what’s wrong with society.