THE administration of Toledo Public Schools and Rogers High School acted quickly and forcefully to send an appropriate message that fighting will not be tolerated at sports events.
On Oct. 3, officials stopped the football game between Rogers and Central Catholic High School with 1:44 remaining in the third quarter when a scuffle broke out on the field after a hard tackle on the Rogers quarterback. His teammates on the bench stormed the field. Central's players stayed on the sidelines during the ensuing fight, in which, fortunately, there were no serious injuries.
This week, officials from TPS and Rogers sent a strong message to high school athletes across the district by suspending the entire Rogers team for one week, an action unprecedented in the annals of the Toledo City League.
Superintendent John Foley and Rogers Principal Kelly Welch both condemned the incident, which will result in Rogers forfeiting Friday night's scheduled game against Whitmer High School.
Ms. Welch also said that Rogers head football coach Rick Rios apologized, accepted responsibility, and was disappointed in his team, but we would prefer to hear the coach address the incident directly rather than through a surrogate.
It is only natural that rivalries exist among the schools that make up the City League. And while they have competed for generations on the diamonds, courts, and fields of their respective institutions, nowhere has that intensity been any greater than on the gridiron. Toledoans, like people in many communities across the state and nation, are and always have been passionate about their high school football.
But that does not excuse anyone - player, parent, or fan - who loses sight of the fact that football is, in the final analysis, a game designed to develop maturity and character as well as athletic skill. One indicator of that character and maturity is the ability to see beyond our immediate actions to their potential consequences. This is something the Rogers players did not demonstrate in the heat of the moment.
Unfortunately, as a result, Whitmer ends up also being punished for the Rogers players' lack of restraint. In addition to losing revenue from gate receipts, the school was planning to induct new members into its athletic hall of fame Friday night, and senior marching band members and their parents were to be honored.
Now, they'll have to scramble to find a new date and people who planned a special trip to Toledo for the induction will either have to rearrange their schedules or cancel altogether.
If Rogers' players take this lesson to heart they will emerge from their suspension as more mature young men and be better for the experience. It's a hard lesson, indeed, but one worth learning.
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