September 28, 2012 (Kearny, NJ) Kearny High School's Football team cancelled its scheduled game with St. Peters Prep's last Friday September 21, 2012. The reason given for the cancellation was player safety. The first press coverage of the cancellation stated that the Kearny Board of Education and the superintendent of Kearny's school cancelled the game out of concern for student's safety.
Kearny who was (0-2) and St. Peters (2-0) were apparently not a competitive match up. In fact, St. Peter's had crushed its opponent Memorial High School the prior week by a score of 77-7. Kearny's Superintendent of Schools was not willing to subject his students to the risk of injury given the overwhelming odds.
According to a news report in the Star Ledger, Kearny superintendent of Schools Ron Bolandi had anticipated the competitive mismatch last year when he wrote to the Hudson County Interscholastic Athletic League requesting that Kearny be switched to a lesser division, "out of considerable concern for the safe of our student athletes, since there are only 24 players left on the team." In support was the athletic staff, the school board, and the booster club all in agreement that a denial of the request would "not only destroy our program, but put our players in danger." The Hudson County Interscholastic Athletic League denied the request. That same body is now considering sanctions against Kearny for its cancellation of the game.
KOTW believes that student safety overrides any concern about showing weakness in face of a superior adversary. It is clear that St. Peter's, a private school, who recruits student athletes from New Jersey and New York to play on their football team had no intention of taking it easy on a much inferior team that draws student athletes from the limited boundaries of the Town of Kearny. St. Peter's showed its lack of sportmanship when it continued to play despite a substantial lead in its game against Memorial High School the prior week going on to a win 77 to 7. Was it really necessary to score 77 points when it was clear that victory was at hand.
It is clear that Kearny is no longer a Football town but a soccer town. What the Superintendent should do if he is required to play St. Peters again is send over Kearny's "futbol" team to play St. Peters "football" team. The pronunciation is the same but it would be interesting to see St. Peter's players trying to figure out how to play soccer. KOTW thinks that there would be a much more competitive game at hand if Kearny sent its soccer team over to play. Besides, soccer players are much more professional and when they have a substantial lead they start passing the ball around trying not to embarrass the other team. A victory by one point is a victory.
The bottomline is that the Superintendent of Schools and Athletic Director John Millar did the right thing for Kearny's football players. The Athletic League should limit the number of out of town students can play on St. Peter's team and maybe they wouldn't be so superior to the towns in their league that can only draw students from their geographic boundaries. There is something wrong with a private school playing against public school teams who are a clear disadvantage in terms of recruiting student athletes.
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