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Carole Estabrook

It was tough day for the Skaneateles Central School District on Saturday. Players from the high school’s football team were not permitted to play in the sectional championship game that day because a member of their coaching staff was found to have violated Section III recruitment rules when building the team.

The decision is unfortunate, especially as a number of the players, particularly the seniors, could have been scouted by universities at the championship game. It is also unfortunate because the Lakers have had such an unbelievable season, with a 9-0 record.

Most of all, the decision is unfortunate because the penalty impacts the players, who really had nothing to do with this.

We are talking about 40 students who did absolutely nothing wrong. These 40 children would otherwise have been eligible to play, had one of their coaches not participated in illegal recruiting practices.

I was somewhat baffled to read that Section III executive director John Rathbun viewed this kerfuffle as a teaching moment: an opportunity for student athletes to recognize the importance of upholding rules.

From my perspective this situation has only taught these children not to put their trust and faith in adults.

I keep trying to imagine how I would feel if I was one of these students, or a parent of one of these students. I would be seriously ticked off at the coaches, the district and Section III Athletics.

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If the coach did something illegal, penalize the coach, not the kids.

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Collective punishment, wherein a group is penalized for the actions of one, is against international law which was specifically outlined during the Geneva Conventions. And while high school football is obviously not governed by those rules, I find it unsettling that a form of punishment that is against international law could somehow be effectively implemented on a group of teenagers as “a teaching moment.”

I’m sorry, but if collective punishment isn’t OK in the context of international warfare, it certainly has no place in high school athletics.

Members of the Skaneateles Lakers football team were done a horrible disservice by their adult role models. This whole situation has only taught these young athletes that adults aren’t always accountable for their own actions. Not allowing these students to play in the championship game only reinforces that is perfectly acceptable to persecute people based on their associations.

Estabrook’s column appears

Mondays and she can be reached at estabrookecarole@yahoo.com

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