, Salem, MA

June 13, 2014

Letter: Character building and high school sports

The Salem News

---- — To the editor:

Why punish two otherwise totally admirable athletes? (“Graduation cigars extinguish Beverly lacrosse players’ season,” June 6) What’s the use of rules, anyway? It’s just a prank, isn’t it? What’s the big deal about one cigar puff? Everyone else was doing it.

The difference here is that “everyone else” was not members of a team still in season.

College athletics are big business for their home institutions. High school athletics, under the rubric of character-building and physical development, drain resources from already-strained academic budgets. To what end?

At every grade, star athletes are exempted from academic requirements faced by other students. Local newspapers celebrate their successes. They are feted on the field and at celebratory banquets and lionized among their classmates.

How dare the city of Beverly draw the line here? May I remind you of the children and young adults who are bullied, abused or even raped by “heroes” who have been taught that rules don’t apply to them, that any behavior, however reprehensible, is excusable. It’s a straight line from that cigar puff to Aaron Hernandez’s jail cell.

Martha Rose