What Happened To These Freshmen Football Players Isn’t Hazing, It’s Sexual Assault
Sayreville War Memorial High School’s football season has been cancelled after horrifying allegations of locker room “hazing” were recently made public. I put “hazing” in quotes here not because I am 100-years-old, but because what happened to these kids was not hazing but sexual assault.
Here is how the attacks were described to NJ Advance Media in an exclusive interview with the parent of one of the team’s players:
It would start with a howling noise from a senior football player at Sayreville War Memorial High School, and then the locker room lights were abruptly shut off.
In the darkness, a freshman football player would be pinned to the locker room floor, his arms and feet held down by multiple upperclassmen. Then, the victim would be lifted to his feet while a finger was forced into his rectum. Sometimes, the same finger was then shoved into the freshman player’s mouth.
That’s not hazing. That’s not funny. That’s sexual assault, and that is hideous.
This New Jersey High School football team is considered elite, having won three state championships in the last four years. Football is a big deal in this town, and parents are furious. Not because of the actions of some of the senior players against freshmen players, but because their football got taken away. A story in Gawker quoted one angry parent as saying:
“I was at the police station with him when they were questioning him,” she said. “They were talking about a butt being grabbed. That’s about it. No one was hurt. No one died. I don’t understand why they’re being punished. I think that the forfeited game was punishment enough.”
Holy shit. Really? Her defense for her son is, “No one died”? Outstanding. Way to go, team, for not murdering anyone.
She is dead wrong, however, when she argues that no one was hurt. First of all, on a purely physical level, having an un-lubricated finger shoved into your anus is painful. Second, these boys were pinned down in the dark and violated. That sounds agonizing and traumatizing to me. Third, they then had to call these guys their teammates and see them every day. That is demoralizing and humiliating.
Did I mention that these assaults are said to have happened every day during the fall football season? And that the freshmen would race to the locker rooms after practice to try to get out of there before the seniors showed up because they were so scared of them?
The practice of hazing, in and of itself, disgusts me. The idea that you get to humiliate and hurt people who are less powerful than you and then call it a bonding experience is monstrous. It gives predators and people with no conscious a green light to assault and debase people however they like. But let’s be clear — once you violate someone’s body, that is a crime. That is sexual assault. That is rape. And referring to it in the news as a case of “fingers in butts” and making it seem like some kind of harmless roughhousing is appalling.