Source: MediaNews Group/East Bay Times via Getty Images / Getty
Hazing is still a problem that exists in football along with bad behavior from some of its coaches—but, the most recent example? A high school football coach, and his staff, in Canton, Ohio have been suspended after it was learned that he forced one of his players to eat pork against his religious beliefs as a punishment.
The incident occurred on May 24, the last day of classes. The senior, a rising athlete who has attracted Division I college schools, had missed a voluntary practice session with the team four days earlier. Coach Marcus Wattley decided to make him sit in the locker room surrounded by his teammates and other coaches and eat an entire pepperoni pizza as punishment even though he was fully aware that the player was a Hebrew Israelite and did not eat pork as a rule.
The teen said later that he was yelled at the entire time by his teammates, and that Wattley told him that if he didn’t do it the entire team would do extra drills and that it could jeopardize him remaining on the team.
The Canton City School District suspended Wattley and seven of his coaches after a complaint was filed soon after. The teen’s father, Kenny Walker appeared before reporters along with the young man’s uncle and their lawyer, Ed Gilbert on Tuesday (June 1st) to announce their intentions of filing a lawsuit against the school district on the grounds that Wattley’s actions violated his son’s First Amendment rights. Walker stated that his son has been traumatized by the incident and is currently undergoing psychological counseling. So far, there has been no public comment issued by Wattley, who was hired by the school in 2019.
An investigation launched by the school district after his suspension is expected to finish up soon.