As the football season was winding down here in Richmond County, several football players were suspended from play, and not for anything they did on the field.
The trouble was in the locker room, and although the major involvement came from two youths unable to control their tempers, who took harsh words to a physical altercation, others stood by and let it happen.
Football Coach Paul Hoggard suspended 10 players from his program following an altercation in the football locker room on Nov. 1, while the team was preparing for its opening-round match-up with Cary. Of the 10, four were on the varsity roster, but none were starters. Hoggard said the others were junior varsity players, some of whom had been called up to the varsity for the postseason.
The two students involved in the fight were suspended from school for 10 days, as required by Richmond County Schools’ guidelines. Hoggard said the spectators were issued three-day suspensions because they violated school policy by using their cell phones to video the scuffle.
Not only did the spectators not intervene to stop the fight, they poked these angry dogs and made matters worse.
“It was football players in the football locker room and they didn’t do anything to try and stop it, instead they encouraged it,” Hoggard said of the incident. “The fight was between a junior varsity football player and a non-football player, who had quit the junior varsity team earlier in the season.”
The bottom line here is that there were no innocent bystanders in this ugly incident.
Hoggard said he wasn’t sure if the videos were uploaded to any social media websites. If they were, Hoggard doesn’t believe he or the school’s administration can enforce having the videos pulled down.
“I don’t think you can ask someone to delete a video if they used their personal profile,” Hoggard said.
Since handing down the suspensions, Hoggard said no one has contacted him questioning his decision and he has the backing of the school’s administration.
“They have been very supportive,” Hoggard said.
As they should be. Coach Hoggard did the right thing.
Playoffs or not, starters or not, these student athletes acted in an irresponsible and harmful manner and deserved to be punished.
In an era when 20 seconds of cell phone video can go viral on the Internet in the blink of an eye, it was important to send a message to his players: This is not acceptable behavior.