View From the Press Box: Dion Clisso 7/15

Dion Clisso

By Dion Clisso PrepsKC Managing Editor
Posted: July 15, 2010 - 4:47 PM

As we get closer to practice starting on both sides of the state line you can’t help but get excited about a new season of high school football.

At the same time a report of alleged hazing by the upperclassmen of a team from southwestern Missouri while at a football camp at Pittsburg, Kan. State University has dampened my enthusiasm. No matter what the level of hazing or what form it took the report troubles me. I had hoped now that we are 10 years into the 21st century those days were behind us.

I’ve been covering high school sports for almost 20 years. When I began I was only a couple years out of high school myself and it was very easy to relate to the players. While there wasn’t much of an age difference I knew then and know now that hazing is wrong.

Playing high school sports should be one of the best times of a person’s life. I can remember when Marty Schottenheimer coached the Chiefs and he would say over and over winning a state championship in high school was his greatest sports memory.

For one player or a group of players to taint those memories or even make it so bad a player wants to quit the sport they love is inexcusable. Hazing is not a right of passage and in no way builds a team.

It is easy to see what builds a team. Wednesday night I was on the sidelines at Bishop Miege watching a 7-on-7 jamboree. I interviewed the Stags all-everything defensive lineman Shane Ray who was there supporting his team. Ray probably had a lot better things to do on a night in July when the heat index hit 110 but he was there watching and giving encouragement.

Ray is just one example of many that I have come across this summer. Senior after senior I have talked to has spoken about helping younger players showing them the right way to play the game. That is the way you build team unity.

Leadership is not hazing to show that you are the upperclassmen. Leadership is the day in, day out work in the weight room, helping a younger player learn that route or blitz scheme and showing respect to coaches and fellow players.

I’m not one to preach but this is a subject that should be addressed with every team, every year. I just hope we don’t have to hear of any more of these stories in the future.

Dion Clisso is the Managing Editor of PrepsKC. To reach him send e-mail to