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Schools of Thought: What a thing to be known for

May 4, 2009
By BILL CAIN, The Leader-Herald

The Northville Central School District Board of Education has a fight coming to it.

After the cancellation of the junior varsity baseball season as penalty for a locker room incident, a petition started circulating, started by the parents of some of the J.V. baseball players.

One of the players defecated in a locker room shower and his teammates refused to turn him in, so they had to turn in their uniforms instead.

Some think the punishment does not fit the crime because it wasn't everyone on the team who made the mess. These people don't understand the penalty is not for the initial action, but for the team's complicity in the act by allowing the culprit to get away with it.

This is the problem that was addressed by the cancellation of the season. Some of the players may not have known, but I find it hard to believe that none know. In a community as small as Northville, I imagine it's hard to have too many secrets.

Someone - I'm quite sure several people - on that team know who dunnit.

I can understand their decision. As an adult, I say it was a stupid decision made to protect a child who has no regard for those around him. As an adult, I say it makes little sense, then, for these players for whom the culprit has so little regard to offer him protection.

Were I still a child, I believe my thinking would be different than it is now and I'd most likely think protecting a friend was the honorable thing to do. I'd be wrong, but that's probably how I'd think.

I'm sure these players believe they are being a good teammate. What they fail to recognize is they are not their own team.

They are Northville's team.

When they put on that jersey with "Northville Falcons" emblazoned across the chest, they represent their school and their community.

This act of gross vandalism and the acceptance of it by the culprit's teammates make them unworthy of representing their community in this way. Just as the guilty child will likely learn this is not something for which one wants to be known, it is not something for which Northville wants to be known.

And where was the coach when this was happening? I can tell you definitively where he was not, and where he should not have been. He was not, nor should he have been, in the shower with the players. I'm sure he was in or near the locker room, but I'm also sure he was not in a position to stop someone who wants to take a dump on the floor from doing so.

Trying to pin any portion of blame on the coach makes little sense. No coach goes into the showers with his players and no group of high schoolers should need their hands held every step of the way through their day.

If this person needs that much supervision, perhaps he is not yet fit for such responsibility as is given to high school athletes.

I hope when whatever petition with however many signatures makes its way to the board, they stand on the side of principal Michael Healey and Superintendent Kathy Dougherty. There will be parents who are unhappy because they feel their child is being treated unfairly, but there are likely more people in the community who feel this is the right thing to do.

As for the culprit, I honestly don't care who it is. For me, he's just a child who did something supremely stupid. The true measure of this person will not be taken for some time - not until he is either bragging about it and laughing with college buddies or he is embarrassed whenever an old friend from high school brings up the mess he made.



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