Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

April 22, 2013

OUR VIEW: Penalty fits but where's the parents?

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Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — We’ve held off on saying anything, but it’s now time to offer our two cents on the trouble seven members of the Newfane varsity baseball team got into during their recent trip to Myrtle Beach. There is certainly blame that belongs squarely on the shoulders of the players, but there are parents — or, at least chaperones — who must share in the blame.

First and foremost, there must be consequences for one’s actions. What these seven players did — stealing high-end sunglasses — doesn’t make them terrible kids. A terrible decision? Absolutely. And they must be punished.

However, there is an enormous question that hasn’t been answered: Where were the parents or chaperones? These kids were “out on the town” without any adult supervision. Why? There once was a time when students would be chaperoned everywhere they went when they were on a field trip or an overnight trip. Times have changed, but not that much.

We understand the lure for parents to cut loose a little while on vacation, or on a trip involving athletics; it’s not unusual for parents to have gatherings in hotel rooms on these type of road trips. Youths, whether they’re in high school or elementary school, know when there’s no rooster watching the henhouse. Clearly, adult supervision was not a priority on this venture.

Concerning the players, a South Carolina judge sentenced them to community service, mercifully back home in Niagara County. That was a good start. Then the school district added its punishment.

The guilty players were benched for several games, and the Panthers won’t play in the postseason. To field a team, Newfane called up players from the JV squad.

This was a rational response. Players are always told they win and lose together as a team. There’s no reason that they shouldn’t be punished as a team. The players who committed the actual crime were punished. Their teammates suffered the consequences, much as they would when a teammate makes a bad play in the field.

It’s a learning experience for all involved. The seven were disciplined and, using the team concept as a blueprint, a portion of that penalty extended to the team. Their teammates learned that misbehaving while representing their school will have severe repercussions. Meanwhile, players on the JV get a chance to see a higher caliber of play.

There is plenty for the adults to learn from this as well. The district, to its credit, stepped up to the plate. It was announced at the last board of education meeting that three more chaperones would be accompanying .... The district response should be used as the framework for other school districts facing similar situations.

As long as the district adheres to its own policy, we see no reason not to continue these excursions. More importantly, we hope that everyone involved in the Myrtle Beach disaster has learned a very important lesson.