A Pennsylvania high school football team has had their entire season canceled after reports surfaced that the infamous torture technique waterboarding was being used to haze players. Local police allege that seniors placed towels over the heads of their younger peers and then forced them to take showers in a theoretical simulation of drowning.
According to NBC Philadelphia, the "waterboarding" was just one of the inappropriate activities, some of which were sexual in nature, taking place at Central Bucks High School. Rookies were allegedly forced to grab the fully clothed genitals of another player as a form of initiation while their teammates look on. Another player reportedly was held down while others forcibly shaved his head.
All junior varsity and varsity coaches at the school were immediately suspended in connection to the incidents.
“Based on all available, verified information gathered from an ongoing internal investigation into allegations of improper conduct by numerous Central Bucks West football team members, and the failure of the coaching staff to properly supervise activities, swift and firm action is absolutely necessary,” Superintendent David Weitzel said in a statement on Thursday.
This incident comes on the heels of seven New Jersey high school football players being charged for extreme hazing that led to “a series of locker room sexual assaults on four victims.”
In an exclusive interview with NJ.com, a parent of one of the team’s players detailed one of the attacks.
“In the darkness,” the parent’s description begins, “a freshman football player would be pinned to the locker room floor, his arms and feet held down by multiple upperclassmen. Then, the victim would be lifted to his feet while a finger was forced into his rectum. Sometimes, the same finger was then shoved into the freshman player’s mouth.”
The sport of football has been under a considerable cloud of scrutiny following a barrage of bad publicity about the NFL's handling of both domestic abuse and sexual assault. College football has also not been immune to criticism, as allegations have swirled about impropriety in the investigation of an alleged sexual assault by star Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston.
The NFL has instituted new policies and plans to convene a panel to revise and reform league policies on violence perpetrated by athletes and staff. This week, the NFL released a PSA on the issue, featuring star players like Eli Manning and Alfred Morris. In the meantime, the league is the subject of an ongoing independent investigation into how it handled domestic abuse charges against embattled running back Ray Rice.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell may be forced to testify in an upcoming hearing about whether or not Rice, who he banned indefinitely from the game in September, can be reinstated this year. Rice has argued that his suspension from the NFL, and dismissal from his former team, the Baltimore Ravens, violates the league's collective bargaining agreement with the players.