Is it worth it?
by John Grones | December 12, 2006
My goal this season was to feature a high school
basketball game or games of the week. Up until this past weekend I had a couple
of boys games picked out.
Unfortunately, a group of nine Cromwell High School student
athletes decided to attend a party. They have stepped forward to accept the
consequences. For those athletes for whom it was a first offense, the
consequence is sitting out basketball games the next two weeks. They are also
not eligible for any Polar League post season awards or all star games.
The potential games of the week included the Cromwell
boys versus Moose Lake/Willow River and Barnum. These two games will be very
difficult now without four players. The girls team is in a similar situation.
They will be without three players.
This obviously isn’t the first time area high school
students have decided to risk the consequences and have a little fun. It’s
always fun, as long as no one knows about it. In fact, the fun pretty much
happens every year.
So what’s the big deal?
For me, it starts with the deception and the lies that
preceed and follow the drinking. It’s not consuming an alcoholic beverage that
bothers me. It is the commitment not to and then sneaking around to do it.
How many parents were deceived? I’m quite positive that a
few coaches were lied to. Quite a bit of trust broke down at this point.
Another problem here is the fact that young adults that
may or may not be of legal drinking age were involved with the party. In most cases,
the young adult has nothing to lose. As for the high school student athlete,
the consequences can be quite severe.
A trust has been lost, and now the test for these
students will be how they respond and build it back up.
Several years ago, I decided to write a story about this
topic and it didn’t happen. The story was going to be about a group of five or
six student athletes who challenged each other with an interesting pact in
elementary school. The agreement was not to drink alcohol until they graduated
from high school.
I thought this was rather unique and I was quite
intrigued by their commitment. The group stayed strong for several years, and
during that time the group excelled both athletically and academically.
When graduation rolled around, I met with the group and
told them my wish to share their example. I really wanted to demonstrate how
peer pressure in high school can go both ways. As I began the interview
process, it became immediately apparent that something had changed.
As it turned out, all but one of the student athletes
caved in the final week before graduation and had a few beers. They had a
senior class trip planned and they were nervous about not being experienced
The pressure to drink had finally consumed them.
Which brings us back to the current situation at Cromwell
It always comes down to the agreement student athletes
make prior to participating in athletics. Sports is a privilege that not
everyone gets the opportunity to enjoy. Is one, two, or three nights of
partying worth it? I suppose that’s a question for the group that got caught.
In this situation, and many situations in the past, I
have had a relationship with the group of young people who made a poor choice.
The coaches and myself don’t feel any different about them now than we did
before they made the mistake. Sure, we are disappointed, but we all make
choices and accept consequences.
Cromwell athletic director and head basketball coach Bill
Pocernich has every right to be disappointed. He will start the season without
three of his starters on the basketball team. “The students made a bad
decision,” he said. “The student athletes will serve a punishment. They need to
do what all of us should do with mistakes — admit it, learn from it, and move
“The great majority of the students who have spoken to me
are very remorseful and feel that they let an entire community down,” added
We all makes mistakes and fall short in life. It’s easy
to do and we all succomb. It’s not an easy transition from being a kid to
becoming a young adult.
Forgiveness is the key word that enters into the picture
now. We all have encountered numerous situations where we would like to have a
“do-over” in life. It is at times like this that we can thank GOD for the gift
Hopefully, everyone learned something from this
experience. The high school athletes will face some immediate consequences and
there are more consequences to follow.
Also, it is great time to evaluate true friendship. True
friends don’t put each other in situations that have negative consequences.
As for the young adults that contribute to the underage
drinking… I hope they take a step back and ask the same question…
...is it worth it?
This article first appeared in the December 12 issue of
the Voyageur Press.