By Devika Ranjan         

Due to the recent hazing incident, the students, faculty, and coaches of Andover High School have been abuzz over the extent of ritual hazing that goes on at the high school—especially in the case of the sports teams. Many athletes and coaches have been forced to critically look at the hazing in Andover in light of the current situation.

We face a predicament as a student body: Is this a common occurrence? If so, what should be done about it? From my experience as a member of the tennis team, sports teams at Andover High have always maintained an appropriate balance between competition and affability. We know the limits and use our energy to motivate each other to succeed in a game, tournament, or match. However, I was curious to see if this was true of other Warrior teams.

Many students denied any form of bullying or hazing in Andover sports, although they speculated that perhaps there are more incidents than are reported.

“In this school, [hazing] is not really so widespread,” said junior Andrew Schwartz.

Junior Kylie Moynihan thought that “hazing happens all the time, but usually not that extreme.”

The junior or senior captains of the team who absolutely forbid harassment set the tone for most sports teams. “[Our captains] run a pretty tight show,” said Jake Sacco, a junior who plays volleyball. “Even still, no one would consider hazing—it’s not common.”

Track athletes feel similarly. “If you bully people, you’re out,” explained Ashika Shah, a long jumper for the track team. The head coach, Coach Comeau, confirmed this statement. “[Hazing] is unacceptable in any type of sport, organization or classroom. It has no place in today’s society,” he said. At the beginning of every season, Coach Comeau makes sure his athletes know that track “is not about being a champion; it’s about being a good person.” He places a lot of emphasis on cooperation and a positive attitude and, as a result, has not seen any incidents of hazing.

However, Coach Comeau refused to let the current hazing case slip by unnoticed and spent “35 minutes talking to the kids” about the consequences. He also read the Student Handbook aloud to clarify any misconceptions. “It’s come to a point where people have to be compassionate with each other,” he told the track team.

Regarding all the press coverage that this incident has received, students generally feel that reporters are focusing too much on the issue.

“They’re blowing this way out of proportion,” said Schwartz.

“[It’s] ridiculous,” added Moynihan. “There are bigger things to worry about.”

Is the ferocity of this anti-hazing movement being carried a little too far? “We usually make freshmen wear their [hockey] equipment to school as a joke,” described Melissa Newton, a field and ice hockey player. “Coach said we couldn’t do it this year because it was considered hazing, but it wasn’t serious at all. We’ve all done it, it’s just a joke.” Perhaps we are being a bit extra cautious—but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Nobody wants to carry a joke too far; the consequences of poor judgment are right in front of us.

It’s important to focus on the positives. Most sports teams in Andover have never seen hazing, and hopefully never will. “At least now many people have learned that this went way too far over the line and this won’t happen again,” said Schwartz.

Marina Renton also contributed to this article.