The football season is over at Central Bucks West High School.
In a stunning move Thursday, the school superintendent scrapped the final two games of the season,
citing reports of hazing during pre-season rituals. Kids apparently were forced to go into the showers with a towel draped over their face. They are referring to this as something akin to waterboarding. Crotches were grabbed.While the shock waves roll over the CBW community, they are no doubt also being felt across the region.This is now the second incident of hazing that has stopped a high school football team in its tracks. The first was Sayreville in North Jersey, which also saw its season wind up on the ash heap after reports hazing. Five coaches were suspended and criminal charges are pending against seven players.I imagine there are a lot of nervous players and coaches across the Delaware Valley today.In other words, my guess is that things have not changed a lot in the more than 40 years since I last donned a football uniform.Yes, we were knuckleheads. We did a lot of dumb things.Before the season, we would go away for a week for "summer camp." Hell might have been a better description. We practiced four times a day.I have no idea where we got the energy, but after dark we still managed to get in more than our share of hijinks. I would guess those would include something that today might be described as hazing, including invading the cabin of a group of younger players and generally raising hell.In that week, a special bond was created among the young men who played on those teams.I'd be willing to bet that has not changed in the decades since either.I always tell people that I learned almost as much playing on a high school football team - even for someone who barely weighed 110 pounds soaking wet - as I did in many classrooms.You learned about adversity, how to get along with people of different backgrounds, and maybe most importantly, how to bond, unite behind a common goal. The bonds that formed during those weeks at summer camp remain today.We weren't very good. We went 0-10 my senior year. I was the quarterback. That sort of explains what kind of team we had. I got hurt in both my junior and senior years. In my junior year I blew out my shoulder and spent a night in the hospital in Coatesville. I returned my senior year only to break my collarbone in week four. So I'm only responsible for four of those 10 losses.I feel today for the kids at Central Bucks West. As an adult, I don't condone what they did. But I can certainly imagine how it happened.Should the coaches have intervened? If they knew, absolutely. But coaches aren't everywhere. This kind of thing is not new. How we react to it is.The football fields at Central Bucks West will be quiet today. Eerily quiet.But the message sent could not be louder.It's being heard in every locker room, and every practice field, across the Delaware Valley.It's even heard in 40 year-old memories of another time.