In light of the disciplinary actions against members of the Greenbrier boys soccer team for taking alcohol on a team trip and consuming the alcohol in their hotel rooms, here are my 2 cents on the matter.
For all I know, each of the parents involved will handle this matter perfectly. They will support their child, but also take into account that the players did the misdeed here. Anytime something like this arises, some are quick to point fingers and make accusations about the coaches and staff overseeing the students.
Well, it is fine to investigate the matter. It is perfectly reasonable to want an explanation of what occurred. However, please think twice before placing blame on anyone other than those who acquired and consumed the alcohol. I would have a different take if we were talking about elementary age kids, but these are, for the most part, high school upperclassmen. They know right from wrong. They are fully aware it is illegal for them to possess and drink alcohol. They are also fully aware that taking it on a team trip is a huge violation of school and team policy.
Some people might say, “Where were the coaches when this occurred?” I have a likely answer. In their hotel room. You see, just as parents have to trust the coach with their child, the coach has to place his trust in these young people, too.
Sure, in almost all cases coaches will tell them to be on their best behavior, they will do a bed check, maybe have a lights-out time established. However, there is no way they can stop a group that has decided and is determined to break rules. If the athletes involved were reasonably quiet so not to wake the coaching staff or bother other guests, what need would the coach have to come to their rooms in the middle of the night? He trusts that his team is doing what they have been told and what they know to be right.
Obviously, young people are not always going to toe the line, but that does not mean we should look elsewhere to place blame.
Other people might say “boys will be boys.” I understand that mind-set. I do think in our society we have gotten overly sensitive, to the point of silliness, with some of our rules and regulations. However, this is not one of those silly rules. Many bad things can happen when alcohol and young people are involved. I was no angel when I was a young athlete, and I am sure these are all good kids, but they did something stupid – and when you do something stupid you have to face the consequences.
The players knew they were breaking team rules and violating school policy. They did not think they would get caught. Well, to all young athletes reading this column, you will get caught. In this age of social media, if three or four people know about an incident, you can bet that number will be multiplied by 100 as fast as someone can reach for an iPhone.
Now, because of their ill-advised decision, a team’s terrific season is likely ruined. A highly thought of, and successful, coach is under the microscope, and a school is going to be in the press for all the wrong reasons. I have no idea what the punishment will be for these players. Their 2013 soccer season is over, that is for sure. For the seniors involved, that is punishment enough.
What about senior players that had a chance to secure a scholarship as Greenbrier made its way to the state playoffs? They will learn a lesson that will stay with them forever.
Hopefully, the players are not the only ones who learn from this.