Ableser calls on AIA to investigate Saguaro High School following forfeited football game
Ableser said Tempe students, athletes, teachers, parents and staff contacted him following the game that Tempe High School forfeited after only 22 minutes of play, during which several Tempe students were injured so badly they had to go to the hospital.
“I am disheartened to learn that Tempe High School is facing a penalty for forfeiting a game on the basis of protecting student safety,” Ableser said. “The Tempe staff and coaches should be commended for this decision.”
Ableser is sending a formal letter to school officials and the AIA, calling for an investigation of and possible sanctions for Saguaro High School. In the letter he wrote, “It is apparent to me that the (Saguaro High School) administration and staff have lost control over the direction of their football program. A display of unsportsmanlike conduct, like that exhibited by the Saguaro football team, should never occur again in high school football.”
A copy of the text of the letter is below.
As a former State Senator and the current State Representative of District 17, representing Scottsdale and Tempe for the past seven years, I write this letter out of grave concern. Although I was not present for the Friday, September 7th, 2012, high school football game between Tempe High School and Saguaro High School, I have heard from many players, students, teachers, parents, and staff about the actions that ensued.
Student safety should be the first and foremost concern of the Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA). More importantly, holding competing institutions to the vision statement of AIA, this is to “teach, enforce, advocate and model the principles of the Arizona Accord and Pursing Victory with Honor.” Student safety is such a concern that many state governments, including Arizona, have passed legislation protecting the student-athlete from concussions and other potentially harmful injuries. Governing laws, ethics, and codes of conduct should be taken seriously and enforced in order to protect our children.
I have read reports of possible violations that may be levied on Tempe High School for choosing to put the safety of their students first before undignified play. I believe any talk of violation on the school or staff would be not only confounding, but absurd in respect with what happened to the student-athletes at Tempe High School. I hope that the AIA takes a complimentary approach to Principal Yslas, Athletic Director Arredondo, and Coach Walker for their bravery and commitment to student safety. Their actions should be rewarded and highlighted for other athletic programs to follow.
Furthermore, I implore the AIA to investigate and explore possible sanctions on Saguaro High School for their actions and behaviors this past weekend. It is apparent to me that the administration and staff have lost control over the direction of their football program. A display of unsportsmanlike conduct, like that exhibited by the Saguaro football team, should never occur again in high school football. A team that had several personal fouls and unsportsmanlike conduct infractions, and one player being ejected all before half-time, should raise eyebrows. On top of all of that, the fact that two Tempe High students (Emmanuel Gant & Terry’on Wycoff) were taken to the hospital and two other students (Messiah Smith & Jordan Wiatr) were badly injured and forced to leave the game, only further highlights the severity of Saguaro’s actions.
What’s even more alarming is the way the staff and players of the Saguaro football team handled these injuries. I have heard that Saguaro players bragged about injuring Tempe players and hurled threats to other Tempe players that they too will “get f***ed up!” Moreover, I have read quotes from Saguaro’s Coach Mohns in the newspaper in which he downplayed his players’ actions and did not take responsibility. What type of example does this set for our youth and community?
This letter is being sent to both administrations and governing bodies of each school along with various media outlets to inform them of my concern and expectations. I will await a response from your association regarding what is being done to monitor and regulate the actions of the violating school. Thank you for taking my concerns into account and doing what it takes to repair this situation.
Representative Ed Ableser