Daily Archives: November 24, 2010

Giving Thanks For High School Fooball

Published November 24, 2010

Out in western Massachusetts, West Springfield's Ty Mann runs from Putnam's Ricardo Wright in a game on Nov. 12. (Courtesy of Peter Camyre/Flickr)

As American as pumpkin pie and turkey dinner, football has its hallowed place on Thanksgiving. But, thanks to another American staple — beer — some kids won’t be allowed to play in their annual Thanksgiving Day football game.

Administrators in Maynard have canceled tomorrow’s game between Maynard High School and Clinton High School after four Maynard players were found drunk at a school dance.

After suspending the four players, Maynard doesn’t have enough warm bodies to safely field a team, Superintendent Mark Masterson said in a statement, and the team had to cancel the game.

As a former high school football player, I know that this game means the world to all of the players. Sure, the four kids made a stupid decision, but now two schools miss the opportunity to carry on a long-standing tradition and the meat, if you will, of many families’ Thanksgivings will be cut out. One’s heart aches for the poor seniors, especially those from Clinton, whose final game was canceled.

The seniors who play for Agawam High and West Springfield High are decidedly more chipper this holiday week after learning that their game will go on as scheduled despite the suspension of four players and four coaches at Agawam.

The Agawam-West Side game had been in limbo since Agawam school officials learned that a hazing incident targeting young players had taken place in the locker room.

As the Globe reported, these Thanksgiving games are about more than just the high school players.

The prospect of Thanksgiving without the big game had upset many parents and alumni in Agawam and neighboring West Springfield, and the decision to let the teams play was a relief.

“It’s important not to punish the entire community and those kids who have not participated,’’ said Mayor Richard A. Cohen. “They deserve to play, and the game will go on.’’

Cohen and (Agawam Superintendent Mary) Czajkowski said they had received many calls from people urging them to allow the game to proceed as scheduled.

Hazing and alcohol violations cannot and should not be tolerated, and enforcing consequences for poor decision-making is crucial in giving students a real education. But now, entire towns are having to learn those lessons the hard way.

The rest of us who were blessed to play our final high school football games on glorious, chilly Thanksgiving mornings should appreciate the gifts those memories bring. And give thanks.

This Holiday Season, No Pioneer To ‘Watch’ Over Toys

Published November 24, 2010

Edward Swartz holds up a toy as he presents his 30th annual "10 Worst Toys" list in Boston in 1997. (AP)

As holiday gift lists form in advance of Black Friday, one annual list stands out.

The “10 Worst Toys” list has been presented each November since 1973 by World Against Toys Causing Harm (WATCH), a Boston-based group. But for the first time this holiday season, the nonprofit’s founder isn’t around for the list.

Edward Swartz, a Boston lawyer and consumer safety advocate, died in his Brookline home in September. He was 76.

A successful lawyer who won multimillion dollar cases, the Boston Globe obit refers to Swartz as “the Nader of the nursery,” after former presidential candidate and product safety advocate Ralph Nader. In the obit, Nader says toys are generally safer because of Swartz. Nader also notes that “very few trial lawyers move into prevention.”

WATCH, which includes Swartz’s son, James Swartz, last week released the organization’s 38th “Worst Toys” list.

The 2010 list ranges from the dangerous-sounding Kung Fu Panda Sword of Heroes to the seemingly innocuous Animal Alley Pony, which, says WATCH, “has long, fiber-like hair that is not adequately rooted and is easily removable, presenting the potential for ingestion or aspiration injuries.”

What’s Going On? (A Follow-Up)

Published November 24, 2010

Yesterday, after particularly violent newscasts during Morning Edition — the JP pizzeria killings, the Mattapan murders arraignment, the Lynnfield murder-suicide — I asked simply: What’s going on?

Today, we know a bit more about two of the crimes.

The Sept. 28 Mattapan quadruple homicide was armed robbery-turned-uglier. The defendants allegedly took drugs, cash and other items. The Herald’s Peter Gelzinis called it “a grisly, old-school crime … all about ripping off strutting drug merchants.”

The Lynnfield murder-suicide was reportedly — and if so, unconscionably — over an unborn child’s name. That unborn baby died when Joseph Cummings allegedly shot his girlfriend — before he killed her sister and himself.

Some details have been filled in. My question remains.

Here’s what commenter Desiree said in response to yesterday’s post:

I’m not sure what is going on, but someone please fix it!! I have lived in Boston for 7 yrs now (Kenmore, Dorchester, now JP) and have never seen the city this violent. I love Boston, but if this continues, I may have to consider moving elsewhere.

That’s an option no one would want. What’s going on, and what can be done? Continue the conversation in the comments.

Wednesday Morning: More Probation Fallout, ‘Pat-Down Slowdown’

Published November 24, 2010

Good morning! Today, on this busiest travel day of the year, we’re following conditions at Logan and on roadways. Thus far, Logan officials are reporting no delays as lines move through security.

Here’s what’s news on this blustery Wednesday:

After the Probation report, Rep. Thomas Petrolati is leaving his House leadership position. “… the Spotlight Team documented his role as the preeminent political figure in the department’s patronage machine, with more than 100 of his financial backers holding jobs.” (Globe)

Some advocates say probationers were hurt by the department’s patronage. “They were not given effective service and the result is that some of them then got pushed into the deeper end of the system,” said Lael Chester, of Citizens for Juvenile Justice. (WBUR)

Some people will bypass full-body scans at Logan today. “Logan is girding for a pat-down slowdown amid signs that Hub passengers … might clog lines.” (Herald)

The state is readying a $75 million economic development program. It’s “designed to invest in small start-up businesses, build a new high-tech computer center, and spur economic growth in struggling regions.” (State House News)

Sources say V-Mart is heading to Detroit. Catcher Victor Martinez is leaving the Sox to sign with the Tigers in what’s reported to be a four-year, $50 million deal. (ESPNBoston.com)