The 2015 high school football season is scarcely underway, and already three incidents of violence by players have been recorded. The latest act of over-the-top physicality took place in a game on Sept. 11 between two New Jersey rival schools, Imaculata and Linden.
A video of the incident, which has gone viral, clearly shows one player yanking the helmet off another at the end of a play, striking him in the head with it, then tossing it aside. The aggressor was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct. After the game he was suspended from the team.
The boy who was struck was taken to an area hospital, where he received 10 stitches for a contusion.
According to New York’s Daily News, Linden School Superintendent Danny Robertozzi said in a statement:
The brutal action taken by this young man is simply unacceptable and will not be condoned. The school board is pursuing the severest disciplinary measures permitted under law.
The Linden Police Department’s juvenile bureau is also investigating the possibility of bringing criminal charges against the youth.
You might expect the story to end there. It doesn’t. The day after the Daily News’s initial report, the paper ran a followup story quoting the head of a local youth council who claimed the blow was accidental.
Salaam Ismial, director of the Elizabeth-based United Youth Council, said the players from Linden High School and Immaculata High School had been battling all game Sept. 11 and the Linden player didn’t mean to hurt the other teen.
“Things like this happen in football. He didn’t go up to hurt this kid. They were two bulls tangling,” Ismial said.
The mother of the suspended teen, Anita McDuffy, is also quoted:
He really is apologetic about this. He said his hand got stuck in the helmet. I believe in my child. If it was so bad, which it was a bad incident, they should have taken him out of the game. They allowed him to play the third and fourth quarter. He apologized to the student.
When that fanciful explanation failed to win sympathy for the assailant, the race card came out. The website of New Jersey radio station 101.5 reported that the player (who despite being a minor was identified as Fritz Moncion) was the recipient of racial slurs:
Community activist Dondi Givens, Jr., said that racial comments were made during the game and that the Immaculta player that Moncion struck had speared him in the stomach earlier in the game.
Assuming there is validity to any of this, what kind of lesson are Moncion’s defenders imparting to other teens? Is the message “An eye for an eye”? Is it that the answer to being called the N-word is to attempt to fracture the offender’s skull?
As the story moves forward it will be interesting to know.
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