Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Up in smoke

Righteous people, unite! Fire up the torches, bust out the medium-sized flog, dust off the rack and head to the Clifton Park Ice Arena! Justice must be exacted upon these heathen scoundrels! They must be made accountable for their sins!

Members of the Shenendehowa High School’s varsity hockey team caught smoking the marijuana got off easy. Back in the day, even the ones that weren’t smoking would have gotten 30 lashes at town square. And the ones that did? Well, let’s just say water boarding is too good for them, but pulling out fingernails might be a good start…

…Wait a second. It appears as though another bull-shit news story has flipped iSaratoga’s sarcasm switch. This always happens when more than a half-dozen area news agencies form a lynch mob for a story that is hardly worth the press or airtime it was generously given throughout the Capital Region. Of course, the media needed to do something to fill the void left after the year-in-review pieces and before the next spate of winter weather hits.

The dozen Shen hockey stoners were an obvious target. They’re a group of top-performing athletes who were caught doing…well…what many high school kids do when they’re staying with a bunch of their peers in an out-of-town hotel room: They passed around the peace pipe. Unfortunately, these players must not have known the tried and true subterfuge needed to toke up undetected among the legions of parents and coaches standing guard in the hallway.

Techniques such as using the ‘spoof’ – exhaling through a cardboard tube stuffed with dryer sheets –and the age-old ‘towel the door’ technique would have surely prevented Coach Juan de la Rocha from detecting this hard-to-miss essence. The notion that these students didn’t use these devices suggests they are either lacking in ingenuity, devoid of intelligence or simply don’t puff herb often enough to familiarize themselves with the finer points of undetected teen marijuana use. Shame on them.

Immediately, the coach punted six players from the squad. He threw another six from the team after the team finished their Morrisville road trip. The dearth of players almost immediately touched off a swirling miasma of media coverage, which has hovered around the rink ever since.

Naturally, the monastic throngs of anonymous Internet chatterboxes also found the need to chime in on the debacle at the Saratogian’s Web site. The indignity, the nerve, the shear gall of these…these…ingrates, to violate the code of conduct and tarnish the good name of Shen athletics.

“Send them packing for the season and future students under this iron fist of a moral code of conduct will know there are consequences for their actions,” posted one frothing reader. “That is the real issue here: The continual degradation of our society's moral code of conduct by not holding people responsible for their actions.”

The Times Union, the Daily Gazette and the Saratogian all featured front-page articles on the team, with all varying substantially in their content. The Times Union –a paper known for its brazen ability to pat itself on the back –managed to wait until the second graph in their story before bragging about how they “first reported” the earth-shattering story Monday. They didn’t bother to mention how any sports reporter with half a brain would have realized something was amiss when a third of players didn’t dress for a tournament game.

The most lacking was from the Daily Gazette, which regurgitated everything printed in Tuesday’s addition. The only new information included was from the district flack, who spuriously claimed the school wouldn’t release information about the players’ punishment.

Not true, as the Saratogian correctly reported today. Eight players were booted from the team, while another four were allowed to return. Like the Gazette, the Saratogian stopped short of identifying the players, claiming the district wouldn’t identify them because of privacy laws and whatnot. Of course, this is a load of horseshit.

The district did identify the players quite clearly on the varsity team’s Web site, albeit inadvertently. Is it a coincidence that only 16 players are now listed on Shen roster and statistics database? Conspicuously absent from the top of that database is the team’s lead scorer and his two linemates, among others. In fact, it’s pretty darn easy to pick them out by simply pairing the roster to the season advances printed in the various local papers –each of them also featured on the Web site.

But why name names? It’s not as if these kids broke into a private residence, had a raging kegger and then trashed the place. They smoked weed, which is something that will stunt growth, diminish sexual apetite, kill brain cells and cause a predisposition to spending long nights trying to pair Pink Floyd’s ‘The Dark Side of the Moon’ album with video feed from the ‘Wizard of Oz.’ Marijuana, however, is not a performance enhancement drug, nor is it considered physically addictive. In fact, it’s probably less harmful than most of the prescription medication the typical suburban family routinely keeps in their medicine cabinets these days; and certainly not the type of thing teens use before going on a destructive rampage.

Even the long-held belief that it’s the so-called gateway drug is roundly questioned by most rational circles of researchers. Possessing amounts less than 25 grams is less of an offense than doing 20 miles over the speed limit. Incidentally, smoking or being under the influence of marijuana is not a crime in New York, unless one is caught doing it while behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. These are facts some editors and producers might want to consider before charging up the righteous masses that are too chaste these days to remember their own high school indiscretions.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post, HO. Embellishing some points:

"...weed, which is something that will stunt growth, diminish sexual apetite, kill brain cells and cause a predisposition to spending long nights trying to pair Pink Floyd’s ‘The Dark Side of the Moon’ album with video feed from the ‘Wizard of Oz.’ "

1- Please note that 'yellow submarine' was an ostentatious omission from the mash-up lineup. also, original series star-trek and perhaps sitcoms 'odd couple' and/or 'get smart' can be added according to taste.

2- To all righteously indignant: get real. The road trip stoner has been around for over a generation, and i am proud as hell to see this time-honored tradition in a period of economic and social uncertainty.

God forbid some of these guys should experience the thrill of being away from mom and dad's martini hour for a few days and toke up to relax and yes, bond. It is often a social endeavor ('hey, pass it already').

3- i have no evidence that MJ consumption decreases libido; nor does my girlfriend, HER girlfriends and my hot tub.

Or was that an herb-induced daydream? Who cares!

4- Who cares! (sic)

5- i'm not a native saratogian, yet i kinda always followed the blue streaks as i hailed from an area where HS sports were not the biggie it is here. But for the rest of the hockey season, it's GO SHENS!

I'll be the one banging the cowbell as they hit the ice to the tune of Marley's "get up, stand up".

Back to *cough* work.

11:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to agree with you, this "news" story is lame, no newspaper
should have given these athletes any of this attention, as it will only encourage them.

Dorian Gray

2:17 PM  
Blogger A small "r" republican for fairness said...


While I agree with you that sensationalizing this in the press is patently wrong, I disagree that the punishment of being removed from the team wasn't warranted.

When I was in high school, as student-athletes, we were required to sign a code of conduct that forbade such behavior and clearly spelled out the penalties for failure to keep our end of the bargain.

The administration and coaching staff acted properly in removing the players. As a youth coach, I'm sure it hurt like hell to lose half your team due to such stupidity. Shen's season is pretty much in the crapper going forward-and all will feel the sting of it. Players, Coaches, Parents and Students/Fans.

If they failed to uphold the code of conduct, and just let this slide, then why have a code of conduct?

One of my few arguments with this generation is that they frequently take such risks, but aren't willing to pay the price when they get caught. It is all about PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY. And we have failed them by not being good role models in this regard. Personal responsibility is lacking at all levels of our society. Look no further than the Bush Administration, Congress, the housing mess, Wall Street, Rod Blogevich, the Madoff scandal, or our beloved City Council as poor examples of the failure of this ideal.

Maybe the players should have thought a little bit about the potential bad press that could be garnered, and how it would hurt their team, their athletic program and the good name of Shenendehowa before firing up the bong.

I'm not naive-kids (ESPECIALLY hockey players, many of whom I have had the good pleasure of befriending over the years) will drink, smoke, and partake in the herb known as Cannabis.

However, it is crucial that kids start to think beforehand, and then if they still choose to go ahead and roll the dice, then they need to step up and be young men (AND women) and accept the consequences when the piper wants to be paid.

All of us-myself included- will be better off when we recognize that actions have consequences, consequences that frequently hurt others.

In that vein, and this is slightly off-topic but pertains to the matter at hand: a laurel and hearty F***K YOU to the person that is SUING the BARS that served her husband(?), who proceeded to DRIVE DRUNK and HURT OTHERS. Was he thinking? NO. Did his actions have dire consequences? YES. Was it someone else's fault? NO. Yet this is another example of how it's always someone else's fault. This is the essence of what I'm speaking about.

I'm no better than anyone in this rant, but I will say this, when I'm wrong or make bad decisions, I don't go running to my lawyer; I don't blame my bad childhood, or that I wasn't hugged enough. I "Man Up" and take the rap. The hockey players would do well to do the same, whether they are victims of a slow news day or not.


Small 'r'

3:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Poetry drifting
up from Alger bong-like blog.

HEINOUS hockey crime
MUST be punished severely--
What Would Palin Do?

Editors POUND fists,
all gloves thrown off in fury!!!
...What MidEast bloosdhed?

Where's my goddamn beer?

-Kyle York
Puck 'n Travesty

4:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

small 'r':
excellent points about responsibility and 'man-ing' up... maybe i missed it, but are the shen hockey players running behind mommy's skirts and/or to ed ryan, et. al.?

otherwise, they did roll the dice... the larger point is that it is a societal shame and yes, blight that we continue to vanquish perspective on these matters.

for as you so aptly stated in your comments re the arpey family lawsuit, it comes down to a time-and-place context.

simply put, they guys blew some weed in a hotel room. given that they were apparently bothering no one external to the situation, it's a stretch to make comparisons to a DUI head-on collision.

there are situations when we can bemoan for the past 'moral time' (if that's what it was) and there are situations where 'realpolitik' should control. the resources spent pursuing what is essentially private behavior are a luxury in this day and age, and IMHO a philosophical anachronism.

small 'r': i think that conservative paragon (and legendary toker) WF Buckley would vote for me, but as i said at the top i respect your opinion.

11:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Kyle

Nice call on AMD's need to get Fed approval for the chip fab transfer to the Saudis.

Kyle: "It ain't ever gonna happen"

Reality: It happened in record time

Now please hush up, otherwise people are gonna start thinking your opinions on the hudson water issue are equally stupid.

And that would really suck.

1:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It doesn't matter whether or not we individually think smoking pot is bad or good. It's against the law and against the Code of Conduct.

As for suggesting the coach turn a blind...well, nose...

I would hate to be the coach that fails to turn students in when such blatant circumstances exist. All it would take is one kid to get caught by an outsider and the parents start playing the blame game. The "you're responsible for my child and he was right in the hotel room next to you and YOU didn't do anything" game. It's an uncomfortable position to be in.

And really, though the child is responsible, the parent is right on some levels. Parents trust coaches to act in their places when teams are traveling.

In fact, probably the worse thing that the kids did is fail to realize how disrespectful they were being to their coaches by forcing them to take action.

2:57 PM  
Blogger A small "r" republican for fairness said...


Outstanding points with all of your comments, as usual.

Small 'r'

4:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Small r: You're chock full of pompous shit.

Ho: First time I've agreed with you in ages. Smoking dope is no big deal. Kicking teenagers off a varsity hockey team is ridiculous when we let war criminals like George (warrantless wiretapping) Bush and Dick (waterboarding) Cheney go unpunished.

5:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The fact that this was big news is, of course ludicrous. I agree with small r though, if you sign a contract, be prepared for judgement or punishment, when you break it. I could give a crap about stoner-jocks though! Don't make me barf. Sandal and baseball hat wearing, date-raping, Dave Matthews fans. Ugh. Glad you're back though, HO! Pax, PhilthyRex

9:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What sound does the puck make when a Shen player hits the goal post with it? BONG!

5:17 AM  
Blogger Faulkner said...

Good God, the journalists and parents should those kids alone and go back to examining their own boring lives. These hockey players have to deal with the rigors of school and a terrible economy to look forward to...

And for small r: personal responsibility? How about a society that lets corporations and financial institutions off the hook for bad direction? How about an outgoing president who never excelled in school, was an alcoholic and shirked his National Guard duty? We aren't offering many good models right now, except our president elect.

7:20 AM  
Blogger A small "r" republican for fairness said...


Thanks for the comment. I thought I kinda covered that when I wrote:

"Personal responsibility is lacking at all levels of our society. Look no further than the Bush Administration, Congress, the housing mess, Wall Street, Rod Blogevich, the Madoff scandal, or our beloved City Council as poor examples of the failure of this ideal."

Small 'r'

3:50 PM  
Blogger Faulkner said...

Small "r"

Okay, you covered yourself. But you're still a hypocrite for saying that the punishment was fitting (maintain the code) and that the players should have thought about the potential bad press. The whole point of Ho's entry was that this was a nonstarter story to begin with. Shame on the press for exploiting it. Where the hell is the journalistic code?

And as for the beef toward "this generation" taking risks and not paying the price when getting caught. "This generation" is going to have to fix the massive way "your generation" fucked up our society.

In hockey, according to the code, if someone delivers a dirty hit retribution is expected. isaratoga is basically returning the blow to mainstream journalism for offering a bullshit sensationalized story at somebody else's expense.

The hockey players aren't martyrs... but they certainly shouldn't have been front page news.

5:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a good city council. It's the government form that has to be changed.

6:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Happy to see that there are a number of folks who'll let me choose what laws, and rules that I need to obey. Sounds like we have a bunch of anarchists here. Maybe too many of the "urban liberals" for honest folks to tolerate.

7:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Change the friggin government already. This hockey shit is a bore!

5:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 7:00 am:

You're missing the point. "Honest folks" shouldn't be tolerating rampant lawbreaking. They certainly shouldn't be tolerating a president and vice president who've been committing one war crime after another for years. Neither should the news media. But while the honest folks and the news media are letting Bush and Cheney get away with capital crimes it's the height of silliness to focus attention on high school kids smoking pot, which is the most harmless kind of lawbreaking. It's not even a misdemeanor!

We'd all be a lot better off if we paid attention to what's really important and stop worrying about small shit.

6:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why is it that all the people that want the gov't to change don't have jobs? Why does clifton park,which in population is bigger than saratoga springs have a volunter fire dept? Did you know our firemen work 96 days a year,a quarenteed 8 hours of overtime per week and a entitlement package that rivals a major league baseball contract?,and now they want to take over the ems service get your check book saratoga,if you still have a job.

1:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


It's simple: they are not mentally equipped to survive in that wild jungle called the private sector.

So they look at 'charter change' as a chance to add a couple dozen(at least) more part-time politcial jobs (city legislators, etc) to the pile, that they can slide into as a way of putting peas & carrots on the table.

As was said before: just go look at the bios of the Kamp Kim-Keehn crowd for proof.

9:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Private sector?

I was in the private sector.

I was a PRIVATE in SECTOR 4, Field Gorup 43, US Army.

While you pussies were no doubt aiding the enemy with your peace vigils.

Mission Accomplished!

12:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

8;54am still posting on city time...boy you gotta love it,Iknow those people you mentioned, they've paid there dues more than once....I don't think they'll ever reach your positive level of bitch'in and non contributing mentality, what say you grama?

9:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, Mamie the City Hall civil servant speaks.

Mamie: I think you are just the type of person he refers to.

Working a City Hall job is not a real job. Nor is woring for the State of a non profit.

Thhose jobs are just there to stop people like you from starving. Just another form of welfare, that's all dear Mamie.

Now get off the computer and file, file, file!

11:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So in other words Mamie, the charter change was defeated by a bunch of disabled, unemployed nutjobs. That speaks volumes about the charter change supporters

12:01 PM  
Blogger Horatio Alger said...

Oops! I must have accidentally deleted a post while attempting to 'focus' on my 'own blog.' Funny how that works.

1:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As someone who lives in the 'gutter' and loves to partake in many of the things that these kids were doing - I really do not think it is that big of a deal. The substance should be legalized, regulated, and taxed. The price would end up going down for most of us, The government would probably be able to solve some of its budget issues, the jails costs would be lower, bad people would not receive the cash (i.e. gangs) and we would be a happier people.

Ho was right on, that this should have been a non-story in the paper. Maybe a little blurb that the team had an issue and players were suspended - but that is all. These are kids, and they have privacy rights. There names should not have been removed from the teams websites, and the everyday person that does not go to high school hockey games should have no way to find out who it was. The parents should not have people knowing their kids are stoners when they go to work. Imagine the snickers a parent might receive at the lawfirm because of something his stupid kid did. (And a large percentage of other kids did too - but were smart enough to not get caught)

Anyway, I think the point of the original post was not to say they shouldn't have been suspended - they definately should be. They broke the law, they got caught. They should pay the price. They will learn to be smarter next time. The point was to make fun of the media. Isn't the mainstream media the cause of many of our countries ills? I guess the sidebar on why it isn't a big deal to partake was there as well.

7:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

big deal.

6:33 AM  

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