Opinions

Sayreville: More Than Hazing

By: John Franklin

Sayreville students. Image courtesy of the Wall Street Journal at http://online.wsj.com.

Sayreville War Memorial High School students. Image courtesy of the Wall Street Journal at http://online.wsj.com.

I’m sure those of you reading this already know about the heinous acts that seven Sayreville High School football players committed.  The allegedly responsible players have been arrested and charged in flagrant sexual assaults on younger players.  The “game” known as “hootie hoot” is when the seniors of the Sayreville War Memorial High School football team would enter the locker room, turn off the lights, play loud music, and howl, but what occurs after is absolutely disgusting.  The senior players then choose a freshman player, lift him by his arms and legs, and sodomize the young player.  The senior player then takes his fingers and puts them in the young boy’s mouth.  This “game” went on for one week and to four separate victims before it was finally reported.

To call this cruel act “hazing” is an outrage.  What these sick individuals did is defined as rape in our society.

To have such acts go unnoticed for so long is a disgrace.  There were dozens of players in that locker room and multiple coaches in the area, and not once was anything reported for an entire week.   Hazing would be putting flour in a teammate’s helmet or calling them a name.  To be clear, I do not condone hazing or any type of bullying, I’m just differentiating between hazing and rape.  The players are younger than 18, and coaches are adults, and in my eyes, culprits of a serious crime.  They allowed this act to go on for a week saying it was “normal” and “what kids do.” The fact of the matter is that although these are all minors, the acts the players committed are heinous and should be tried in adult court, where proper justice will be served.   These depraved individuals should go to jail for the crime they committed, and for the pain and embarrassment they caused these young players and their families.

The families of the offending players might be the most ignorant of everyone involved.  They think that their children were just playing a “fun game.”  How can they minimize these acts and say that theirs sons sexually assaulting helpless individuals is a “fun game”?  Face the fact that your son took part in an immoral act, and should be put in jail.  These parents have to swallow what pride they have left, and put themselves in the parents of the victims’ shoes.  How would they react if their son came home crying after a practice, and it was not because of the way they played, or because the coach yelled at them, but because four older players, who should be leading and setting an example, pinned him down, and sexually assaulted him?  All of their sons’ scholarships should be revoked and they will be lucky to get into a college at all.

At this point in time, three things need to happen.  The entire coaching staff should be fired, the next season should be canceled, and these men need to be put in jail.  The fact that these parents and coaches believe this happens in all the sports programs all over the state is despicable.  I am a four year soccer player at James Caldwell High School, and in my four years, I have never been bullied or hazed.  Everyone on that field sees each other as a family for the whole season.  Whether or not we are friends off the field, we fight for each other and love each other during the season.

This is an outrage and a disgrace.  The only thing I have to say to these disturbing and disgusting young players is: I hope you realize that your actions have consequences. You deserve to go to jail for what you did.