Hazing at Hamilton High School

What in the name of high school sports is going on here in the Phoenix area? In the last couple of months we have had a major football hazing incident shake the high school sports world here in the Valley of the Sun. Why do kids think that hazing is appropriate? Is it a lack of institutional control issue in high school? Lack of supervision? Whatever it is, the hazing needs to be dealt with quickly and harshly. It’s time to send a message.

I’ve been involved in sports for a long time. I grew up in Wilsonville, Oregon with parents that taught my brothers and I what it meant to be a good teammate, player, and citizen in our community. The other aspect that my father and mother taught me was that our behavior also was a reflection on them as parent. We didn’t want to disappoint our parents or do anything that would embarrass them. I doubt any kid wants to disappoint themselves or their parents, but it happens.

At Hamilton High School in the city of Chandler, Arizona, there was a hazing episode with its football team. There were three players from their varsity football team that were arrested. Only one suspect is being tried as an adult at the moment. Nathaniel Thomas, a 17 year-old, was one of three players arrested. He is also being tried as an adult. The other two suspects are being tried as juveniles for the time being, but could be tried as adults if prosecutors get their way. Thomas has recently pleaded not guilty.

There are reports that hazing has been a tradition of sorts at Hamilton High. I am not going to get into the lurid details of the hazing, but rest assured it’s horrific.

I have never understood hazing. It doesn’t promote anything, but damaging another human being. Back in the day people would say, “It makes you tougher”. Really? Getting assaulted makes you tougher? If you believe that line of malarkey, then you are beyond help to me. Evidently there are players at Hamilton that think otherwise.

How could anybody in their right mind, no matter their age, believe that this type of thing is ok? Nathaniel Thomas and his band of accomplices thought it was socially acceptable. When I was their age, this wasn’t even close to being a thought of mine or my friends. Once again, being raised with decent, moral values and being held to those values kept me from crossing such a disgusting line.

The other part of this is that the coach’s offices are not within eyesight or earshot of the locker room for the players. What? Let me get this straight, coaches, who are there to lead our men and women on the athletic field can’t adequately supervise those players? The building was not designed that way is what the school is saying.

Let me just put this out there Hamilton High, your designer of the athletic facilities is phenomenally moronic. When your child is on school property they need to be adequately looked after. If the child isn’t being properly supervised that’s on the school.

Something needs to change at Hamilton High. The coaches will have some type of plausible deniability because of their offices being separated out from the locker room. The “I didn’t know what was happening” excuse doesn’t sit well with me. If the coaches were truly concerned with what the players were up to then the coaches should have had a supervisor in the locker room just making sure things were not getting out of control.

Have some coaches lost their common sense and are just worried about winning? Possibly.

There is a ton of pressure on high school coaches to win. However, what is the line that a coach needs to stop at when it comes to his/her program? Those athletes are there to play a sport that they love and shouldn’t have to worry about being assaulted while participating in said sport. The Hamilton football coaches failed their players in the most egregious way possible by not providing a safe place for their players.

The culture at Hamilton certainly appears to be out of control and that is a direct reflection on the head football coach. It’s time to take some accountability coach. Show your players that you practice what you preach.

If nothing happens to these players who assaulted these young freshmen, then we have lost it as a society. The victims in this case need to be believed and the perpetrators need to be dealt with in a harsh manner. The hazing culture needs to be put to rest.

Now, I know some people are going to say these perpetrators will need a chance at redemption, but I disagree. These kids knowingly violated another student in a sexual manner. Sorry, but in my book you forfeit your right for a second chance when you do something of this nature. Nathaniel Thomas knows the difference between right and wrong. He is 17 after all.

At the end of the day, Hamilton High School needs to reexamine the procedures within their football program. Sexual assault should not be part of the program. I don’t care that the kids are high school aged kids. The bottom line is that the players are still immature kids who need to be looked after.

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