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Is it worth it?

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 drinkers.

The pressure to drink had finally consumed them.

Which brings us back to the current situation at Cromwell High School.

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.

Now what?

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 on.”

“The great majority of the students who have spoken to me are very remorseful and feel that they let an entire community down,” added Pocernich.

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 of forgiveness.

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… it worth it?

This article first appeared in the December 12 issue of the Voyageur Press.