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Friday, February 3, 2023
ArlingtonOpinionEditorial: No whitewash on football incident

Editorial: No whitewash on football incident

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Long before an early-March pushing and shoving incident between football players at Wakefield and George C. Marshall high schools, it apparently had been an open secret in some circles that bad blood between those schools on the gridiron has gone back a number of years.

Nobody will ever know 100 percent of what has transpired, but our reporting staff does know a good chunk, and it is a decidedly more complicated situation than simply saying “some Marshall players were spewing racist commentary during the game” or someone might have been purposely spat on. Nature abhors a vacuum, and seldom do incidents occur in one.

What happened at the game cannot be countenanced and needs to be addressed, promptly and decisively, particularly regarding any racial slurs or denigration.

But the broader question has been, is and remains: If this was such an open secret, where were the adults all this time? Where were the coaches, where were the principals, where were the athletic directors, where were the superintendents, where were the parents, where were the School Board members? Why did players themselves have to turn to social media to get this addressed?


Given the racial overtones of the matter, many of those aforementioned adults have been diving for cover, claiming ignorance and attempting to extricate themselves from responsibility for what was not a one-time occurrence.

The fact is, all those groups listed above – coaches, principals et al – are responsible for knowing what’s going on and addressing problems before they become conflagrations. And it seems pretty clear that was not the case, on either the Arlington or Fairfax sides of the border.

What would benefit the communities involved is a fair full airing of all the dirty laundry. (And from what we are led to believe, there may be dirty laundry to be aired on both sides.)

Is there a willingness on the part of the Arlington and Fairfax school leaders to take a warts-and-all approach to analyzing the individual and systemic failures that led up to this incident, calling out ALL behavior that did not measure up? Is it worth the time, the pain and, perhaps, the egg that will land on the face of some school officials to get to the truth?

We’re dubious those school leaders will act, as it is not in their self-interest to do so. But it is spring, the season where hope springs eternal.

Responsibility for setting that in motion rests with Arlington Superintendent Francisco Durán and Fairfax Superintendent Scott Brabrand. The two communities should be pressing them for action, and in the meantime, everyone needs to take a break and lower the temperature.

For, after all, nobody – but nobody – has the full picture either of what occurred during that game or leading up to it over the course of years.

And if we really want to learn from the incident, rather than simply have it be another in an unending series of social-media firestorms that lasts only until the next one flares up, the full story needs to come out and there needs to be true accountability, not selective scapegoating.

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