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Football players settle ‘No Gay Thursday’ hazing case

As people in pro sports approve of hazing, athletes take it too far.

Army at Air Force
The cloud of hazing hangs over so many corners of the men’s sports world.
Kent Nishimura/Colorado Springs Gazette/MCT via Getty Images

Three former high school football players at Conestoga High School in Pennsylvania have pled guilty to minor charges of menacing a freshman player with a broomstick despite previous allegations of sexual assault.

The hazing case that rocked the small town of Berwyn has taken a turn for the allegedly not-so-bad as the prosecution has somewhat changed its tune and charged the guilty offenders with a much lesser offense.

From the Associated Press:

The 14-year-old freshman did not suffer any physical injury when the players ”briefly poked the victim with a broomstick in the leg,” according to a joint statement by Chester County District Attorney Thomas Hogan and attorneys for the three Conestoga High School seniors in announcing the agreement Tuesday.

That description of the October 2015 episode comes in stark contrast to Hogan’s characterization of it in March, when charges including assault, conspiracy, unlawful restraint and terroristic threats were announced against the 17-year-olds at the school in Berwyn, about 25 miles northwest of Philadelphia.

The case certainly leaves many questions about the original accusations of sodomy and what kind of plea deal was struck. To so many men, the most humiliating thing that could happen to them is to be sodomized; Did the victim, victim’s father, attorney or anyone else push to change the accusations to limit the “public embarrassment” of the victim? Or was the change in tune designed to spare the villains from grave sex-offense charges?

Sadly the message that many will be left with: Boys will be boys.

My heart goes out to the victim and other boys who may have been menaced by hazing at the school.

We may never know what the true story is. But we do know that hazing continues to be a pox on the world of sports, and one that is sadly approved by commentators on ESPN, executives at Major League Baseball and people across the sports world.

Hazing in all forms needs to stop. It doesn’t help any athlete perform and doesn’t earn any team a win. It has to stop.