The local newspaper, the Moline Dispatch/Rock Island Argus/QCOnline has ran several articles the last few days about an accusation of hazing among the Erie/Prophetstown High School Wrestling Squad. Little real information could be gleaned from the articles. I find most hazing contemptible – though it has taken years of maturity to reach that attitude. It would have been nice to see more details than the articles printed. The Wrestling program is actually a combined school squad from the villages of Erie, Illinois and Prophetstown, Illinois – populations of 1600+ and 2000+ respectively. Those population totals have been very similar as long as I can remember. There did not seem to be many comments from the QCOnline peanut-gallery in the space allocated for reader comments. Whether that represents the actual interest in the subject may be less accurate than a divining rod – considering the way the Dispatch/Argus censors reader comments. Was it hazing? It is hard to say without many facts offered up for study. A problem with any hazing complaint is that one mans hazing, is another mans “considered” good-natured ribbing.
The world has seen many-many-many sunrises and moon rises since, I dazedly stumbled through the Erie School Systems. Eventually the teachers and administrators had enough of my pain-in-the ass eccentricity and pushed me out the door with a diploma. Though at that time Erie and Prophetstown were heated school rivals. Basically the schools athletes and students are not very different than any other school. So when you walk into a locker room of young male athletes, the testosterone rush overwhelms any good senses of the young studs attempting to prove their manhood. (Do young males at that age actually have good sense? I actually doubt it, as my memories of my actions as well as the actions of my friends during those ancient times scream – we were mostly assholes!) To be factual we were as badly behaved outside the locker-room & gym as we were inside. Some individuals behaved worse than others. Was it hazing then? As I look back as hopefully a more mature adult, I would say much of it was, some involved violence some was sexual harassment in nature. As a freshman, I can remember being enclosed by a bully squad called a “Sophomore Circle” – where a large group of Sophomores attempted to impose their physical superiority upon a mouthy freshman. Fortunately for all of us the only thing that evolved from the event was some face to face snorting and bruised sophomore egos from their failure to frighten the lowly freshman with their superior numbers. Others were not so lucky. More than one act that in the modern school system that would be titled as sexual harassment. During my years I can remember stories of acts that included:
- The use of a vegetable brush on one student during a shower.
- A planned event where all the boys in a class flashed money at an attractive girl when she entered the room to accompany a nickname of “Ten Buck” they had labeled on the young woman.
- It was very badly kept secret to many of the boys and girls, that the boys had created holes that allowed them viewing access to the girls locker/shower room. As fast a peep hole was discovered and patched by school officials, a new one would be appear.
- A sexual situation that involved several upper-class athletes and a freshman girl, that should have created criminal records for those involved. The worst punishment I was privy to was the boys being suspended and kicked off the sports team for a season.
There were other events. What was hazing? What was sexual harassment? Probably a lot of it, and embarrassingly, my hands were not clean during some of the proceedings.
I don’t know if the Erie student in the recent Dispatch/Argus article was actually hazed or not. I don’t have that information – though I am sure the gossip fences are busy. The article seems to maintain the student and his parents both believe he was hazed. I have seen enough “good-natured ribbing” that at least makes me give him and his family the benefit of doubt, until proven otherwise. I am also sure the school will do their best to keep the information released to the public at a minimum. It is how school systems operate. I am sure many of those involved in whatever happened actually see the events as being harmless fun. Maybe it was. Maybe it wasn’t. But many years down the road will any of those students, teachers staff and board members involved be able to say the same? The old adage says time heals all wounds. I don’t know. I do know that when I look back at my wayward youth and consider some of the questionable actions enacted by me, and those perpetrated upon me; life often makes it tough to interact with some of my youthful acquaintances without a red face of embarrassment. I fear many of those students involved in this recently reported incident will face similar emotions to deal with as they reach maturity. And SHAME on any adults that might have been even slightly involved in any actual hazing or “good-natured” ribbing. They are supposed to be the role models!