SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

June 10, 2014

Our view: Rules more important than right in Beverly

High school graduations make spring an optimistic time on the North Shore. In nearly every community, we are treated to a sea of cap-and-gown-clad seniors, valedictory speeches that are at once soaring, hopeful and humorous, and smiles of unfiltered joy from young men and women who walk across the stage to accept their diplomas.

Leave it to the adults to stomp out the fun.

We are referring, of course, to the small-minded actions of so-called “grown-ups” who left two Beverly High School lacrosse players on the sidelines this weekend as their teammates continued their run toward the state title.

Beverly High School Principal Sean Gallagher last week suspended Nick Donovan and Dylan Jutras for Saturday’s game — and the rest of the playoffs — when a photo of the two puffing cigars after the June 1 graduation ran in the Beverly Citizen. Gallagher said the celebratory stogies violated the rules of the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association, which oversees high school sports.

The students and their parents were stunned, to say the least.

John Donovan, Nick’s father, called the incident “a minor infraction with a maximum penalty, and I don’t think it’s right.”

“I don’t think it’s applied with the spirit of the rule in mind,” Donovan told reporter Paul Leighton. “The spirit of the rule is: We don’t want any student to be involved with drugs and alcohol, which I agree with 100 percent. However, the application of the ruling was not in line with the spirit of the rule itself.

“What’s the first thing people do when they have a baby? They hand out cigars,” he said. “Look at the statue of Red Auerbach (smoking a victory cigar). It symbolizes victory, it symbolizes accomplishment. It doesn’t symbolize anything negative as far as I’m concerned.”

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