A high school in New Jersey has canceled its 2014 football season over allegations that the team engaged in hazing of new players.
School officials canceled the season for the Sayreville War Memorial High School football team for all levels of the program–freshman, junior varsity, and varsity. The team had won their division’s state championship three years running from 2010 through 2012.
After allegations of hazing were made the Sayreville Police Department and Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office began an investigation. As a result, school superintendent Richard Labbe said that authorities found 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.”
“This is a very sad day in Sayreville,” Labbe said during his announcement of the cancellation.
Parents were so angry at the decision that Labbe had to close a general meeting and meet in private with parents in an attempt to calm them. The media was excluded from the private meetings.
Speaking of the media, reporters were confronted by angry team boosters who blockaded reporters from access to the area and warned them to stay away, with some yelling, “Not in our town!”
Still, parents were quite upset with the decision to cancel the season and many noted that only a small handful of players engaged in the hazing and everyone shouldn’t be punished for the actions of a small minority.
One parent, Theresa Tamburri, noted that this cancellation also effects the cheerleading squad and the marching band, neither of whom had any part in the hazing but are now being punished just the same.
“Everybody was crying when they heard,” Tamburri’s daughter Jennifer said. “It’s just terrible seeing everyone so upset.”
This isn’t the first high school team that lost its season due to controversy.
A high school in Massachusetts lost part of its 2013 football season after accusations of racist graffiti swept the team. It was later determined that the incident was a hoax and that the mom of the supposed victim was the one responsible for the purported racist graffiti spraypainted on her home.
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