Thursday, October 9, 2014

NJ Football Team Forfeits Season Due To Hazing Scandal

     On October 2nd just hours before a game against their county rivals, Sayreville War Memorial High School officials cancel the varsity game. Head coach George Najjar said, "Yes its cancelled. No details can be given at this time." Soon after the district announced it had forfeited the game. Assistant coach Charles Garcia gets arrested and charged with possession of steroids.

     October 3rd: District Superintendent Richard Labbe says the cancellation of the game was not related to Garcia's arrest. Philip Nettl, Garcia's attorney says his client has resigned his position at the school. Labbe holds a press conference saying there was "inappropriate conduct at a significant and serious nature." Later on Labbe added, "I take responsibility for everything that happens in the school district. I'm responsible for the well being of all the students in this district."

     October 4th: The practice fields remain empty. Corey Williams a junior cornerback said the team was trying to stick together. "It's tough, but we're a family."

     October 5th: New Jersey State Senator Richard Codey says the Garcia arrest is proof the New Jersey State Athletic Association needs more steroid testing.

     The following allegations come from the victim's parents and it is graphic.

     Apparently, the following took place in the locker room. A senior football player would start making a howling noise. Then the lights in the locker room were shut off. In the darkness a freshman player would be pinned down to the locker room floor, his arms and feet held down by upperclassmen. The victim would then be lifted up to his feet while a finger was forced into his rectum. Sometimes the same finger was then shoved into the freshman player's mouth.

     On October 6th after a two hour meeting with parents, Labbe announces the 2014 Sayreville War Memorial high school football season has been cancelled on all levels. Labbe said, "There was enough evidence to substantiate there were incidents of harassment, intimidation and bullying that took place on a pervasive level, on a wide-scale level and at a level in which the players knew, tolerated and in general accepted."

     After the announced cancellation of the remainder of the season lots of Sayreville parents were upset.  Granted, some parents besides the parents of the victims were upset at the allegations but most parents and residents of Sayreville were angry at the cancellation of the football season. This was supposed to be Spirit week, culminating with Friday's Homecoming game against Monroe. Freshman Yasmine Gomez said, "How are we supposed to have spirit if we don't have a football team? Things have been blown out of proportion. We know the players, and hazing, to them, they didn't mean it in that way. It was more like being friends."

     Look, I played school sports and hazing for me was carrying some dirty uniforms and maybe cleaning up the locker room nothing like this, there's nothing friendly about sexual assault. William Simmons a 17 year old in the school band said, " Football runs this school. That's all everyone cares about. Football, football, football." It seems that way to me. Bon Jovi is a famous alum of this school and has donated large amounts of money in the past and most of it gets used by the football program according to reports.

     The District Superintendent Richard Labbe said that this was an opportunity to take a stand against bullying. He made an unpopular call but I believe it was the right one whether the citizens of Sayreville like it or not. Football and all sports in general are games, competitions and at the end of the day safety of all those players involved should come first.

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