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Putting the Greenbrier soccer episode behind us with a few lessons

Posted: April 3, 2013 - 12:00am

It’s just about time for Columbia County to put behind us the recent saga of the Greenbrier High School soccer team drinking on a school trip.

But first, a few lessons that should not go unlearned:

• Kids will be kids. That’s why adults have to be adults.

Responsibility for violating team rules, the school system code of conduct and state law rests on the 16 players who admitted or were found guilty of violating those rules. That’s unquestionable. Every one of them knows drinking alcohol on a team trip is just flat-out wrong.

Columbia County years ago re-evaluated its rules for chaperones after misbehavior on, of all things, a debate team trip. It wouldn’t hurt to look at those rules again – and it’s reassuring that school officials say they’re doing just that.

Ultimately, though, it depends on kids doing the right thing. That’s why there can be no tolerance for this sort of activity. The next students contemplating such stupidity must realize they have too much to lose for so little gain.

Still, adults have to assume kids will misbehave – and anticipate accordingly.

• We dodged a bullet – and the adults brushing off this episode had better get that through their stubborn heads.

It’s easy to think “no harm, no foul” when a bad situation turns out OK, but the what-ifs can’t be ignored: What if one of these boys had gotten drunk, vomited in his sleep, aspirated and died? What if one sneaked out and was harmed? What if they hurt each other? All of the above has happened elsewhere, and worse – and we aren’t immune.

It’s not enough to think “nothing bad happened, so just move on” when the school system and the taxpayers who support it are just one phone-book lawyer away from paying through the nose for a wrongful death suit.

• Though reality says otherwise, nine Greenbrier varsity soccer players deserve far more attention for doing the right thing than the 16 who didn’t.

No names have been used throughout coverage of this episode, but everyone knows who they are. And if you know, or are friends or family with one of the nine? Encourage him for getting it right.

And now? Let’s move on, shall we?

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