Hoops hazing back in crosshairs after disgusting Mass. incident
By Cameron Smith
A disgusting act of hazing within a prominent high school basketball team in Massachusetts has refocused national attention on the role coaches should play in policing their teams' behavior, even when those teams are away from the coach's direct supervision.
As first reported by the North Andover Eagle-Tribune, Andover police investigated an allegation of hazing that took place during the summer, when members of the Andover (Mass.) High basketball team were attending the Hoop Mountain basketball camp at Stonehill College in Easton, Mass.
According to the Eagle-Tribune, two of the team's younger players were coaxed into participating in a "game" called ookie cookie, where one of the players was forced to eat an Oreo cookie covered in bodily fluid. One of the students who reported the incident was among the two forced to play the game, while the other who was hazed has reportedly transferred to another school.
The Andover head basketball coach, David Fazio, allegedly reported the incident as soon as he learned of it, alerting authorities as early as Nov. 11 of a potential hazing within his team. Still, he has since come under fire for failing to properly discipline the other players who were allegedly involved; the Eagle-Tribune reported on Tuesday that two of the players who have been accused of leading the hazing incident were allowed to try out for the basketball team on Monday, an act which would directly contravene Andover Public School policy which alleges that all students involved in hazing will face levels of discipline that vary from suspension to expulsion.
While two students have been expelled and seven have been suspended over the incident, that clearly didn't keep at least a couple of the involved students from showing up at the team's annual tryout. If any teens are found legally guilty of hazing they could face up to a year in jail and a $3,000 fine, while any teens who witnessed the event without reporting it would be accountable for a potential $1,000 fine.
For the time being, those in or near the Andover community are expressing general disgust with the incident, as has the director of the very camp where it occurred.
"Your blood just boils. It's very upsetting to say the least," Steve Gibbs, director of Hoop Mountain basketball camp, told the Eagle-Tribune. "[The hazing incident was] disturbing and reprehensible."
"I just want to know why," Andover High senior Matt Ciampa told the Boston Herald. "That's not in any way, shape or form normal. This is a really poor reflection on Andover. Ninety-nine percent of the town is totally shocked by this. This isn't being deemed socially acceptable by anybody.
"It defies all bodily and natural instincts. I hope I speak for everybody here: You don't eat cookies covered in that."