Administrators at Tappan Zee High School in Nyack, N.Y., banned their high school hockey team from participating in their Section 1 playoff game because of the team's half-naked 'Harlem Shake' video, which appeared on YouTube about 10 days ago. In the video, the kids are all wearing underwear or shorts, though many have their shirts off. One misguided lad wore only a sock.
For me, one of the most beautiful pieces about sports is that, barring a deeply harmful mistake like cheating, all the stuff off the ice, field and court don't matter: All that matters is how you play with your team in those 60 allotted minutes (or 40, or 48 -- You get the point). So it's deeply disheartening to see some adults in Rockland County, just outside of New York City, screw that up so badly.
These kids didn't do illegal drugs. They didn't cheat. They didn't verbally or physically assault someone. They made a funny video. Yes, the video was a bit racy and yes, the kid with just the sock on should have worn more. But they didn't hurt anyone, and any claim that they didn't represent the district properly is weak at best, given the apparent upstanding nature of most of the kids (according to a report).
What's really at work here is the continued shielding of teenagers from sex that so many adults are hell-bent on maintaining. So what if a couple of the kids were nearly naked? Who gets hurt by it? Nobody.
It's the same attitudes that keep so many kids closeted. Most parents in our culture don't want to have serious, open conversations with their kids about sex and sexuality; They'd rather punish their kids for daring to be remotely sexual.
Did it deserve a slap on the wrist? For sure. The kid with just the sock made a dumb decision; And the two kids simulating sex wasn't in the best taste. Did it deserve something as draconian as being forced out of the playoffs by their own school? Absolutely not.
Hat tip to Anthony.