Yesterday we received news that my school's homecoming game was canceled due to a hazing incident at our opponent's school. The incident prompted the suspension of their team. At this point, the allegations of wrongdoing look pretty severe and the cancellation of what remains of the season seems appropriate.
News of this incident comes on the heels of a hazing scandal in another end of the Philly suburbs (over in New Jersey). Generally speaking, 2014 has been a bad year for football, pro and otherwise. This decade has been poor for it. Though fan interest and television viewership remains very high, one must wonder if we're on the verge of seeing the sport's decline. The violence and injuries create one basket of problems. The culture of violence creates another set. And then there is what I can't help but perceive as a growing hesitation on the part of parents to let their kids engage in the sport. I don't think the sport is in its twilight, but the shadows seem to be getting long.
High schools can be places of very intense pressure. That pressure concentrates in different places in different schools. At the school where the hazing took place, the pressure concentrated in a program (football) that had met with a great deal of success in the 1990s. It became bigger than the school. Where does the pressure concentrate where I teach? Am I conscious of the pressure? Do I act kindly and fairly in the midst of that buildup of pressure? People who work in high schools should ask these questions.