Nazareth Area School Board to consider revisions to code of conduct, published at lehighvalleylive.com, details what can happen when consequences for athletic code violations are not fully thought through. Two wrestlers at Nazareth Area High School (Nazareth, PA) were charged with "possession with intent to distribute marijuana" last summer and were to be suspended from "extracurricular activities" for one year. That is unless they agreed to meet certain specific criteria, which would then allow for a much lighter sentence - a 5-week suspension.
Let's see here, thinking this through from the athlete's perspective, "one year equals 52 weeks versus 5 weeks if I agree to something the school wants me to do. And, if I go out for a team whose season is before wrestling season, I can serve my suspension for that program and not miss any wrestling. Hmm, ok, where do I sign up for the 5-week/go out for an earlier program thing?"
This is a common mistake made by many high schools, not just Nazareth. With only good intentions in mind, school district athletic departments adopt codes that give options, or flexibility, with the idea of trying to help the athlete.
However, more times than not, they end up enabling student athletes by giving them an opportunity to manipulate the situation to their advantage. Kids are not dumb and will take the easiest path available, at least if you allow them to.
Of course it is nice to see Nazareth taking steps to correct the problem; not all schools are willing to be that proactive. I do have to applaud them for that.
I do have one question though; something that really nagged at me while reading through the story. Where the heck are the parents in all this? Why would they allow their own kids to manipulate the system like this?
One thing is for sure, if this same situation had happened to either of my two kids (and there weren't any extenuating circumstances), they would have served the year suspension. I would have removed from the table any other option for them.
So what would you do?