Opinion: Lessons to Learn from HS Hazing Departures

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Chicago Daily Herald


Sports, many believe, are valuable not just because they promote physical health, but also because of the lessons they teach about life.

We are among those who espouse that view. In athletics, you learn about the values of preparation and goal-setting. As importantly, you learn the reality of your own limits and how to cope with them in a constructive way.

"Sports," Cal Ripken Jr. said at his induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2007, "can play a big role in teaching values and principles. It can be a huge development tool for life. Just think: Teamwork, leadership, work ethic and trust are all part of the game and are also all factors in how we make the most of our lives."

Life lessons: The intrinsic virtue of sports.

What then are the life lessons to be taken from the sorry hazing scandal that has racked the football program at Lake Zurich High School this year?

Athletic director Rolando Vazquez, head coach, physical education teacher David Proffitt, and dean Chad Beaver, an assistant coach for the football team, all have resigned in the wake of a hazing episode that took place in the football locker room on Oct. 27.

The specifics of the episode still have not been disclosed, but the departure of three of the athletic department's leaders leaves no doubt about the seriousness of the matter.

The report from an independent investigation ordered by the school board said the Oct. 27 episode "was isolated in the seriousness of its character, but not the only time the varsity football team engaged in inappropriate behavior."

While the report, released Thursday, said investigators found no evidence that coaches instigated or condoned inappropriate behavior by the players, they were not in the dressing room at all times to supervise even though they were aware of another episode of misconduct in the locker room earlier in the season.

Obviously, an educator's duty to monitor and control behavior is one of the lessons that must be drawn.

But the broader lesson - for schools and coaches everywhere - is the priority they must place on messages that go beyond the playing field.

This is not the first hazing episode to take place at a suburban school. Educators everywhere - not just at Lake Zurich - must make a priority of ensuring that it is the last.

Of all the lessons students can learn and educators can teach, respect is one of the most important.

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January 30, 2017


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