I huddled up at Walled Lake Western
I have to be wary of a haymaker catching me while I try to keep the combatants off each other.
I’m a member of the despised media. I’m also a Walled Lake Western grad.
Unless you have been living in a cave in Tora Bora for the last week or so, you have to know the situation at my alma mater. A scandal over alleged hazing resulted in the suspension of five football players and the firing of two assistant coaches.
The timing could not be worse. Western has had an outstanding season, going 8-1 and advancing to the playoffs. Western hosts Milford in a pre-district playoff game today. The kickoff is 7 p.m.
A junior member of the team was allegedly taped to a pole at an assistant coach’s house and struck with pillows and sticks by some teammates.
I’ve never understood hazing. I am not sure what the mentality behind it is. If that’s team building, then it is infantile and abusive. It’s like trying to construct a house using Lincoln Logs and Tinker Toys.
I played football at Walled Lake Western. Nobody ever taped me to a pole. I never considered taping anyone to a pole either.
I played basketball in high school. Nobody ever taped my mouth shut.
I played baseball, too, and there was never any hazing that went on.
I was a goalie on the Albion College lacrosse team. No upperclassmen ever did anything but encourage me. Even when I let in three goals on three shots against Notre Dame and took myself out of the game. Even when a attackman from the University of Michigan kept sliding shot after shot high into the net on my stick side.
Believe me, I had my down moments. My teammates kept me up. Both in high school and college.
So I don’t understand the mentality of teammates who allegedly did that to another teammate. I do not understand the mentality of adults who supposedly condoned the situation. This incident is said to have occurred at an assistant coach’s house? What in heaven’s name was that coach thinking?
Believe me, there were no angels on the rosters when I was in either high school or college. Not everyone was a National Honor Society member. Not everyone was involved in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
On every team that I ever played on, the demographics were a far flung collage.
But we were teammates. If someone came after me, he had to deal with my teammates. If one of my teammates was on the wrong end of a cheap shot, he had to deal with the rest of us.
All these years later, I still distinctly remember my buddy, Rick, taking on a kid who was probably a foot taller and 100 pounds heavier when that kid started to come after me on the football field.
I did not even know what was going on. I had my back turned. But Rick blew out his knee in the scuffle, but never said one word by way of complaint.
That is just the way a team works. Teammates stick up for one another.
Teammates encourage one another. Sure they get aggravated on occasion. Sure they yell at one another in the heat of the moment. But once the play is over, so is the irritation.
The huddle should extend way beyond the field of play.
A team is shared sacrifice by all, not one kid allegedly taped to a pole.
I’ve been a sportswriter for more than 30 years. I’ll always be a Walled Lake Western grad.
Lately, I felt like I have been in the middle of a fight, trying to keep the two sides off each other.
You never know when a haymaker is headed your way. Sometimes the fists are taped.