A blog about living in Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Huskies Football: The Next Act Should Be Contrition

In a recent opinion piece, The Newark Star-Ledger's Steve Politi contrasted the polar responses of the Wayne Hills and Matawan-Aberdeen communities to the Bad Boys behavior recently displayed by members of their football teams.  He criticized Wayne Hills and applauded Mat-Ab for their approaches to the discipline dilemma. "In Matawan, they’ve taught their teenagers that there are consequences when rules are broken, and that protecting the integrity of an institution is far more important than hanging a silly banner on the gymnasium wall. What, exactly, were they teaching in Wayne Hills?"

North Jersey complained about the Wayne Hills approach over a week ago, saying, "[The Wayne Hills football coach] fought to have [his team] play in the run-up to the big game, making an emotional appeal at a recent board meeting to which he brought 60 uniformed players. It was then that the board stayed the decision of its own superintendent and let the accused play. Town and school leaders were largely silent during the ensuing controversy. Many of the coach’s fans in town rallied around the team, but the incident drew a raft of negative comments and media attention from around the country as Wayne became a local touchstone for a national conversation on the culture of football at schools."

The Matawan players' misbehavior was only recently revealed by the Manasquan Police to have been a bit more criminal and little less silly than Coach Martucci had been letting on. After all, breaking into student lockers and stealing things at a host school isn't aggravated assault, but it isn't filling a favorite teacher's car with bubble gum either.

So congratulations to our local school district for disciplining those players and to the public for its toleration of their actions. But to borrow Mr Politi's question, I must ask "What are we teaching here?" This can't be the end of the story. Missing some footballs games should only be the beginning of the Matawan players' penance given their sins. After all, theirs was an act of contempt for authority, different only in degree from the demonstration of hostility towards the Aberdeen Police by a menacing group of MRHS students that occurred back in October. Let's hope MARSD has concrete plans for a more direct response by those involved. Perhaps compulsory community service next summer in Manasquan would express adequate contrition?


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