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Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013: Two different approaches to addressing problems

   Leading off today: Some school administrators step up and do the right thing in the face of an ugly incident. Others, though, hide behind a supposed zero-tolerance policy and take the cowardly path when faced with a difficult issue.

   Case No. 1: The Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake school district has apologized to Amsterdam High School for a chant uttered at Saturday's football game, The Times Union reported.

   "Where appropriate, disciplinary consequences will be applied," the letter from Burnt Hills officials stated. "In addition, we will use this situation as an opportunity to increase our efforts in teaching our students the importance of respect for diversity and good citizenship."

   The district said it is still investigating the incident and trying to find all the students involved. At least two students have come forward to admit they participated in the offensive chant. Other students were expected to meet with Burnt Hills' superintendent Tuesday and plan on issuing their own apology, a school spokesman told the paper.

   According to the report, the game was briefly delayed while Spartans coach Matt Shell addressed students over the public-address system, threatening to end the game if the chant continued.

   Case No. 2: North Andover (Mass.) volleyball player Erin Cox has been suspended for five games and stripped of her captain status after driving to pick up a friend who was too drunk to drive, according to reports.

   Cox received a call from the friend who was attending a party, the reports said. When Cox arrived, police already were in the process of arresting several people for underage possession of alcohol, and warned several others they'd be summoned to court for drinking. Cox got caught up in the sweep, though at least one police officer explicitly stated she was not suspected of wrongdoing.

   Geoffrey Bok, an attorney representing the school in court Friday in response to a suit filed by Cox's mother, said school officials were left with little choice once police became involved "The school is trying to take a very serious and principled stand regarding alcohol," he said. "And we all get that. Teen drinking is a serious problem."

   Cox family attorney Wendy Murphy released a statement Tuesday. "By punishing Erin Cox, the North Andover School District sends a contrary and very dangerous message -- that young people are better off letting their friends drive drunk," the statement read.

   Schedule change: Fate, in the form of a couple of forfeits, has brought together a pair of state-ranked football teams this weekend. Fonda-Fultonville, ranked 17th in Class C, travels to Ticonderoga, which is 17th in Class D, on Friday night.

   Ticonderoga was originally scheduled to play Plattsburgh, which ended its season two weeks ago due to a shortage of players. Fonda-Fultonville was slated to take on Catholic Central, which also lacked enough players to take the field the for Week 7.

   Following up: Unionville (Pa.) triumphed over seven-time Nike Cross Nationals girls champion Fayetteville-Manlius for the second straight meet, but this clash in the Eastern States Championship on Saturday at the Manhattan Invitational was a classic.

   Unionville pulled out an 89-92 win, by faring slightly better in the No. 1, 2 and 5 slots at the finish line. F-M scored better at No. 2 and 3. No ,ore than 10 seconds separated the runners in all five of those races within a race.

   In the boys' Eastern States race, Lincroft (N.J.) CBA defeated Fayetteville-Manlius 90-114, breaking a race record with an average time of 12:44.34 per man over 2.5 miles.

   New York winners of the major boys varsity races: Ryan Udvadia (Shoreham-Wading River, 12:28.0) in Division A, Marco Pompilj (Collegiate, 12:38.7) in B, and Dan Dracup football site

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(Ithaca, 12:56.3) in G.

   New York winners of the major girls varsity races: Katie Lembo (Penfield, 14:28.0) in A, Beatrice Boylan (Cornwall, 15:12.6) in B, and Kelly Hayes (Pearl River, 15:03.7) in F.

   College commitments: Warwick middle-distance runner Jordan Burton will attend Duke next fall.

   Canisius senior Jack Boyd, who has won two state championships each of the last two years, committed to swim at Harvard. Boyd swept the distance freestyles at last year’s state meet in All-America times.

   Coming up: They may well meet again in the PSAL playoffs, but Erasmus Hall vs. Abraham Lincoln this weekend will be the most anticipated NYC regular-season game in several years.

   Erasmus, ranked third in the state in Class AA, blanked Canarsie 34-0 last weekend and is unscored upon since the first quarter of the season opener. Lincoln is ranked 11th entering the all-Brooklyn contest Friday night.

   Milestones: Chris Jackson scored four goals Friday to lead Fort Ann past North Warren 9-0 in boys soccer and tie the school records with 31 goals for the season.

   Strong words: Chuck Pollock of the Olean Times Herald took media to task in a column this weekend over coverage in the aftermath of Westfield/Brocton football player Damon Janes' death last month.

   Initial reports, including articles summarized on the NYSSWA site, frequently stated Janes had suffered a helmet-to-helmet hit -- which Portville coach Gary Swetland has since said was inaccurate based upon review of game video.

   Pollock also took issue with two Associated Press follow-up stories, which I had not seen, in which a Westfield/Brocton athlete alleged chippy play -- including the use of helmets to spear opponents -- took place in the fateful game.

   One of the stories contained a quote claiming “the game is no longer safe because the referees no longer throw flags.”

   As Pollock noted, raw emotion in the aftermath of a tragedy may have contributed to such statements, but reporting in the rest of the story neither supported nor dispelled such a notion. To have such statements "printed as fact, without a shred of proof, while indicting both the officials and a school’s football program is beyond irresponsible," Pollock wrote.

   You can read his entire column here.

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