What Happened to Innocent Until Proven Guilty?
So the bigwigs who have been investigating the matter regarding a white Mahopac player’s alleged racial slur toward a black Carmel player on Jan. 7th turned out in force last Friday for the Indians’ 58-50 revenge win over the visiting Rams, complete with security units in place.
I kind of figured this incident and the subsequent “indefinite suspension” of the player would drag out past the rematch, having told the father of the alleged wrongdoer not to expect any kind of administrative decision until after the rivalry game was played last Friday, and while I was on the mark with that assessment, a decision did come down Monday.
The player accused of levying the slur was suspended by the Mahopac administration for the remainder of the school year; three weeks and five games after the alleged incident took place. According to the father of the suspended player, Mahopac school administrators have now linked the alleged racial slur with an elbowing incident that involved the same two players, which went uncalled in the game.
I can’t recall the last time a local high school player was suspended for the remainder of the school year for having moshed a dude with an elbow, but this jolt seems to have evoked racial tensions within a community that has already been widely brandished by factions of Section 1 as racists for the incident last March between Mahopac and Mount Vernon (do I really need to rehash that again?).
Apparently, Mahopac administrators are caving in to the political pressures associated with the race card that’s been pulled because it’s almost unheard of to toss a kid for the remainder of the season, and then some, for elbowing an opponent. Unless the player is a repeat offender.
Having met both parties on a number of occasions and portions of their respective families time and again, I’d love nothing more than a two-hour sit down over some barbeque and a couple of IPA’s with the dads, seeing how I’m pretty good at getting to the bottom of things (these “he said-he said” deals are my specialty). But since that won’t happen we’re left with a damning accusation and the suspension against a senior player who has told me he would take a polygraph to prove his innocence, and a player who has three more years left of his varsity career at Carmel (providing he doesn’t transfer out). Anyone close to the scene can connect the dots and infer who the players are, but I’ll play along and keep their names out of the piece to protect them from being “Googled” and put through the ringer.
I was courtside for the alleged incident, and, like other eyewitness reporters, coaches and officials I’ve spoken with, none of us heard or saw anything out the ordinary, aside from the elbow we’ve since been privy to. That’s not to say the utterance didn’t transpire, because, as in tune as I am with my surroundings, I could have missed it.
So, in essence, the Mahopac player is accused and suspended for the rest of the year, without any legitimate proof of an allegation that could end up costing him more than his senior season if future employers or colleges were to hold it against him.
“My kid is getting thrown under the bus,” the father of the player said. “We can’t separate the two (incidents; the alleged slur and the elbow), is what they told me. It’s total nonsense. They are hanging their hat on an elbow that was not flagrant, nor intentional, nor was any ejection given. It was a routine foul. And nobody has his back over a routine foul? They actually told him that they hope he uses this as a learning experience.”
It was a hard foul, let’s be clear about that. But in this great country in which we live, you are innocent until proven guilty; unless, of course, you are a student from Mahopac High School where the reactionary powers that be made a requisite decision that could affect the rest of a student’s life, much less his senior year.
But suspending the player for the rest of the season for throwing an elbow? Well, the punishment hardly fits the crime. I suspect the district will come under fire for its decision and the in-fighting will be something to behold, but then again it’s a hot-button topic that many in the community are afraid to touch.
If the Carmel and Mahopac school districts have concrete proof of a flagrant social foul and/or ethnic slur, put it out there and let us see it: In which case it needs to be strung up the flag pole and flown in the face of the offender. If not, put the kid back on the court and continue to study and scrutinize a festering pimple on the butt of not just this community, but an entirely defective planet that may never get a grip on racial strife.