Wednesday May 9th, I caught the tail end of ESPN's Outside the Lines about a hazing incident
involving Davidson High School's football team. As a former athlete and coach, I know all about hazing, and as an athlete I participated in hazing. I was curious to know what all the controversy was about.
I watched the video of the incident involving Davidson High School. This wasn't hazing. This was outright assault and battery, and the players and their joke of a head coach Fred Riley should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. What happened here has no place in athletics.
My experience tells me the player Rodney Kim Jr. wasn't well liked or a was a considered a threat to take another player's position on the team. I'm going to go with not well liked. In any event, the head coach turned a blind eye to the incident, and if he had a chance would likely have tried to cover up the incident.
Wake up people. Once again, this wasn't a hazing incident. Hazing is putting shaving cream in a player's shoes or hiding their equipment. The victim in this case was knocked to the ground beaten, punched, kicked and body slammed. He suffered multiple bruises, a busted lip and a broken arm. While the assault took place, other students stood by and took video of the assault on their cellphones.
Look, this is so egregious it makes me sick and the editor of this magazine can attest that I was not a cupcake of an athlete. I have delivered my share of punishment on the field as a football player and my share of hard screens on the court as a basketball player.
I made a choice when I became a head coach - no hazing - period - end of discussion. I've seen too many cases where hazing got out of control, kids couldn't handle it and good athletes stopped playing. These kinds of actions have no place in sports or college fraternities where students have even died.
If something like this would have happened on my watch I promise you swift punishment would have been dealt out. I'm trying to keep calm while expressing my opinion and not make any comments from an emotional standpoint yet every time I see this video I get so ticked off as a coach. It gives all coaches at every level a bad reputation.
When I think of hazing, I think of pranks like taking athletic tape and taping sophomores to the goal post. Where our practice field was in high school we had to cross a footbridge over a creek approximately 3 feet deep to get to it, and all first-year players were tossed into the creek after football camp ended.
I can remember one of our graduate assistant coaches in college sharing a story about how, as he told it, in school they would take nickels and place them in the doors of the freshmen in the dorms, so they couldn't open their doors.
Beating the daylights out of one of your teammates isn't hazing. Obviously, the players who committed this crime, that's right CRIME, didn't consider this young man a teammate, and neither did the head coach. Don't give this bullshit about boys will be boys. These were punks, and I don't care white, black or red they are punks.
So what actions should be taken? First, the head coach has to go. I would keep the players involved on the team and make them managers. They would have to watch every single play from the sidelines. They would have to get their teammates water and clean the locker room after every practice. There is nothing more gut wrenching to a player than knowing that he is going to be denied his opportunity to contribute and help the team win.
The young man who was attacked, Rodney Kim Jr., more than likely will have to transfer to another school if he wants to play again. Unfortunately, in today's society kids are vengeful. Hopefully things work out for the best, yet these players who committed this atrocity and Coach Fred Riley shouldn't just get a slap on the wrist and walk.
Playing high school athletics is a privilege not a right, and these players lost their privilege to play high school sports when they jumped this young man in the locker room. A strong signal needs to be sent that this kind of behavior will not be tolerated.