October 4, 2012 (Kearny, NJ) Kearny High School's sports teams were all put on probation for fourteen months and the Kearny High School football team fined $250.00 because it cancelled its scheduled game with St. Peters Prep's on 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.
Although Kearny's Athletic Director John Millar stated that the punishment was more than fair, it does not make much sense why the Hudson County Interscholastic Athletic League made it a condition that the probation applied to all of Kearny's athletic teams. If Kearny isn't competitive enough to survive its current league, as it is evident from Kearny Superintendent of Schools Ron Bolandi's request to have the football team switched to a lesser division at the end of last season then the probationary period will likely cause other Kearny sports teams to be affected during the probation period. The application to other sports teams should be rescinded because it forces the hand of the Board of Education and the Superintendent of Schools and the athletic directors to have the football team plan even if they are undermanned and ill equipped to handle games against private parochial schools who draw athletes from a wider geographical area.
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. Instead of fining and putting on probation the entire Kearny Athletic program, the Hudson County Athletic League should have reconsidered its denial of Kearny's request to switch to a lesser division or the league should limit the recruitment of St. Peter's to only Jersey City then possibly Kearny and other Hudson County schools could compete with them.
The extension of the probation to Kearny's other athletic teams is a blatant attempt to force the undermanned Kearny High School Football team to play and risks seriously injury one or more of its players. St. Peter's Athletic Director Rich Hanson showed his true colors when he allowed his team to continue to play hard it is 77 to 7 victory against Memorial High School a week prior to Kearny's scheduled game. Hanson was more upset with Kearny's cancellation because it deprived him of an record breaking win which he intended to celebrate. Let there be a rematch between the teams. Let Hanson bench all his none Jersey City football players and then Kearny might have a chance at a competitive game. Nobody would suggest that St. Peter's play the New York Giants. So why was Hanson so surprised and upset about the cancellation. He knew that his players recruited and given scholarships to St. Peter's Preparatory School because of their football skills were far superior than Kearny's players. 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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