Mark Clark: Davidson athlete deserved more respect

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There is no place in this world for hazing.

It does not belong in the military.

It does not belong in a military academy.

It does not belong at a college sorority or fraternity.

It does not belong on a high school athletic team.

Period.

Recently, the horrible head of hazing arose at Davidson High in Mobile. And from the accounts of the parents of the freshman student involved at the worst end of the hazing, adults turned their heads – not in shame, but rather, in blind ignorance. It was just a case of boys being boys, right? Wrong.

Back on April 27, Rodney Kim Jr., a freshman who was trying to make it on the Davidson High football team, was attacked in the locker room after practice by his own teammates. Why? There is no acceptable reason for the incident. It was wrong. It was cruel. It was unnecessary. And it definitely had nothing to do with football.

Hey, and it was all caught on video which led to the suspension of a few older players. It also was not, according to Rodney Kim Sr., the first time something of this nature had taken place under head coach Fred Riley, who has been at the school for 14 years. According to Kim Sr., he has been contacted by other parents and players who suffered through the same type of abuse. They just did not have the wherewithal to take a stand against the establishment. Kim Sr. and his wife do.

This past Monday, the Kims stood before the Mobile County School Board office and announced a $12 million dollar suit against the system, the superintendent, the coach, the principal and the school. They say they will not back down. I, for one, hope they do not – if this is all true. It is hard to deny the existence of a “fight club hazing” mentality when you watch the video which has gone viral on the Internet.

The video shows several older athletes punching Kim Jr. while he is on the floor of the locker room. He is punched and kicked by several different athletes. There are also athletes jumping on top of the freshman. Kim Jr. suffered a beating and a broken arm. Where were the coaches? Where was any responsible adult? They were nowhere in the video. Coaches claim they broke up the incident once they heard the players getting rowdy. The video does not show that.

Once the coaches broke up the fight – hazing incident – who checked on Kim Jr.? Apparently no one did. He had a broken arm. No 911 call was placed for an ambulance. No call was made to the Mobile Police Department. No call was made to the Superintendent’s office, at least, not immediately. The only call that was made was to Kim Jr.’s father, and he was told his son had been hurt in a football practice incident.

Kim Jr. got no assistance from anyone – not a single player, coach or school administrator helped him. Kim Jr.’s attorneys said he crawled to the curb outside the school to wait on his father for an hour and a half. Kim Sr. was in Mississippi at the time of the incident. So, his son lay there bleeding and hurting from a broken arm. No one with the school cared, so it seems.

Kim Jr. had surgery a day later to repair the broken arm. His parents vowed to take him out of the school and to place him in a private school. They expected their child to be safe in a public school and found out differently because of a group of thugs who should never be allowed to attend a public school again nor should they be able to participate in sports of any kind.

Mobile County Superintendent Martha Peek said she was not aware of any other assaults like the one against Kim Jr. Does that mean she is aware of other assaults and swept them under the rug? So to make sure this type of incident does not happen in the future, the Kims are suing for $12 million dollars. And one more thing the Kims want is for Davidson High to forfeit its 2018 football season.

If the Kims’ story is proven to be true, I hope they get every dime they are suing for and that Davidson forfeits its 2018 season. If the team is forced to forfeit the season, I hope the decision is not made by a judge. I hope the Alabama High School Athletic Association steps in to suspend the team from playing football for a year. Better yet, the parents of the football players should step in and make the decision for their children not to be able to participate in football for a year. Maybe then the hazing will stop. Maybe then other school which might be allowing players to bully other players will stop the actions of the players doing the bullying.

There is no room for hazing in this world. It is time for adults to stand up and quit saying “boys will be boys.” It is time for men and women to be adults – and parents.

Mark Clark is a local sports writer for 

The Citizen of East Alabama.