According to a recent survey by The Union, there seems to be a perception among students and teachers that the MHS football players receive preferential treatment due to the fact that they play a particular sport.
Part of the perception is the belief that athletes, specifically football players, are given access to resources that other students may not have access to, History Teacher Paul Harrison said.
One of the issues pertaining to football players is that during unit tests in academic subjects, the players ask to go the special education room for testing despite being ineligible for the program, according to English Teacher Ginger Roy. She has had two football players ask her to go test in a special education room, Roy said.
“I have students who test with special ed teachers who have modifications. I’m not counting them, because they have a right to do that,” Roy said. “But these other students have no modifications, and have no, you know, legitimate reason to go to test somewhere else.”
According to Roy, allowing the students take a test somewhere else may lead to a several issues including test security. This leads to speculations of cheating and overall disorganization with test-taking, Roy said
“If we start saying that students can test with whatever teacher they want to test with, then it would be very chaotic in general,” Roy said. “If it’s a student in my class, then I’m giving the test, I’m grading the test, and I should be supervising the test.”
This opinion echoes what Social Studies Teachers Danilo Escobar and Paul Cao have also said regarding the issue. Both Escobar and Cao have had at least one student each who was a football player ask them to take a test in the special education testing room. According to Cao and Escobar, both of the students were not eligible for the program, and both of their requests were turned down.
“One [student] asked about it, but I shot it down right away,” Cao said. “It’s awful, it creates a situation where . . . if that’s the case, if students are receiving privileges, even if it’s the perception of it, it needs to stop,” Cao added.
When approached about the issue, Special Education Teacher Suzanne Moffett stated that she does have football players in her study skills class, and that a number of them do come in to take tests or receive extra help. She does not, however, encourage students to come and take tests in her class without teacher approval.
“I absolutely advocate for any students that ask me to help, and it tends to be the football players,” Moffett said. “I’m advocating to say, ‘Hey, you need to get this work done, let’s go talk to this teacher,’ and yes, I will go with them because a lot of the time, kids aren’t going to talk for themselves. They need someone they feel close to, and that’s just kind of human nature.”
To truly combat any misinformation regarding practices of football players being allowed to take tests in rooms other than those of the teachers administering the test, there definitely needs to be more transparency with administration, Harrison said.
Social Studies Teacher Caitlin Bellotti allows football players to serve detention in her room, only if the administration approves, so they can receive academic help, according to Bellotti. Despite this, she does not believe that the perception of football players receiving special privileges is true, Bellotti said.
“I do help [football players] maintain grades, and I run study hall for them after school during the week,” Bellotti said. “The tutoring I do is [also] available to all students not just athletes. Very often I do have many other students in there before school or after school as well.”
Roy had never been informed of any option that students can go to any teacher for help and count as their detention, she said. “In my nine years of working here, I have never heard that from anyone,” Roy said. “I have never heard it being an option because I have students where I would stay after school and work with, but they can’t because they have detention and I have never heard that it was an option to work with me and do their detention with me.”
Detention counts for students as long as they are supervised and are getting academic help, Assistant Principal Hillary Brittan said.
“I’d rather have a kid do that than sit someplace for an hour and not work on their academics,” Brittan said.
As long as there is clearance from administration and the teacher, the student is allowed to complete his detention in the said teacher’s room, Assistant Principal Cheryl Rivera confirmed.
“When teachers aren’t allowed to know information, that makes it difficult because we don’t know what’s going on either, and I can’t say with any confidence what is or isn’t happening,” Roy said. “If everyone was told all that they could be told, and you have all the transparency possible, then it would help dispel some of the rumors in the faculty going around.”
Junior Toa Iafeta, who is a football player, spoke about how others see football players on campus. “I feel like, our attention is overdrawn,” Iafeta said. “Honestly, that’s the only thing I see for it to be. I feel like there are some teachers that hate our guts, and there are teachers that are down for us. They love us, and they’re really here to help us out. I wouldn’t say we’re all treated equally . . . we’re equal in our own ways. [But] there really are teachers that I feel like . . . they strongly dislike football players at this school. That’s just me, that’s how I see things.”
Junior John Macaulay, who is also on the football team, believes that football players do not receive special privileges. He instead sees teachers as mentors and does not feel any prejudice, Macaulay said.
“I see Ms. Moffett and Ms. Belotti as very caring for the football players and are very welcoming for them to stay out of trouble and for them to be in their room to stay out of trouble, so they’re not out there doing something dumb,” Macaulay said. “It does sometimes look like the football players do get special treatment by some teachers. But it’s just more that some do need a little more help and sometimes struggle in school and sometimes struggle getting through different classes.”
Varsity Football Coach Kelly King said he doesn’t necessarily know what others perceive, but expressed that football players are held to higher standards being student athletes. When they do something wrong, they can be penalized up to three times.
The first is through administration, the second as student athletes, and third as football players, unlike regular students who normally only go through administration, King said.Regarding academics, they are just like any other kid, King said. When they ask to test in the special education room, they are simply reaching out for help, according to King.
“They might be reaching out for help,” King said. “The teacher can say no. I mean I’ve had other teachers have kids test in here with me. Depending on the situation, year, whatever.” “The main thing is they have to get an education,” King added. “We have study hall where they have to go through during the season that we take away from our practice time to make sure that they have to go on and sit there. Not everyone is great at the game of school, so we have to work with things.”
Brittan makes it clear that student-athletes have a responsibility to uphold, as well as high expectations to be fulfilled.
“Anybody who’s a student-athlete on campus has to know that they’re representing something bigger than themselves and that all eyes are on them,” Brittan said. “But that’s really the expectations of what we have for our student-athletes, and so, they need to conduct themselves and need to be better than everybody else in their behavior because everybody is watching them.”
Note: The survey was out of 144 students asking “Do you believe that football players receive special privileges from teachers or administration?” 76% said yes, and 24% said no. Out of 19 teachers, 53% said yes, and 47% said no.