Teams are forced to pull out of scheduled games for different reasons all the time. Sometimes they don't have enough players to field a complete team. On other occasions, a game might be canceled or moved for logistical reasons.
Yet few reasons for calling off a game are ever likely to be as unique as the justification provided by the Essex (Md.) Kenwood High junior varsity football team, which forfeited its scheduled game against Baltimore (Md.) Eastern Technical School after six members of the team were involved in a consensual sexual act with an unidentified female member of the student body.
The following statements come from a letter that Kenwood principal Paul Martin had students bring home to their parents after the incident occurred.
"We have discussed this with the members of the team and explained that this situation is to be a time where they reflect upon their level of participation in this event and how this situation reflects upon the rest of the student body of Kenwood High School."
The principal added that "any attempts to contact the young lady, to continue discussing the situation, and/or making threats towards students who may or may not have been involved in the investigation will not be tolerated."
Naturally, the junior varsity football players are not the first high school athletes to be sexually active, yet the fact that an entire team would be forced to forfeit a game because a few of its members admitted to being involved in some type of a sex act seems a bit over the top.
However, there was a reason why Kenwood officials got involved in the sexual peccadillos of their young charges. According to Baltimore CBS affiliate WBAL-TV, which first reported on the story, the sexual encounter between the underaged girl and the junior varsity football players occurred on campus property, meaning that it fell within the purview of school officials.
Yet the sex act alone was not the complete justification for the team's suspension, according to WBAL and the Baltimore Sun. Rather, school officials decided to pull the plug on the team's game after ascertaining that a number of other players on the team knew about the incident but failed to report it to officials.
There has been no indication that the junior varsity as a whole will face further sanctions, though Baltimore county schools spokesman Charles Herndon intimated that all students who were involved in the event have received disciplinary penalties, some of which could keep them from re-joining the football program.
Meanwhile, two varsity Kenwood players spoke to Essex-Middle River Patch about how they feel the actions of their understudies have undermined their school's good name.
"I think the decisions of my peers have affected not just the football team but the whole student body," said a senior defensive end on the varsity football team. "They don't realize how something you think is fun or exciting can ruin you in the long run."
Another Kenwood football player, a senior linebacker, told Patch those involved in the alleged incident need to be held accountable for their actions.
"The bad decisions the JV players made just came back to bite them," the second player said. "They didn't think it would come out like this, but they have to understand there are consequences to everything.
"It's better they experienced it young than when they got older."