Seven athletes from a Massachusetts high school were suspended over the weekend after smoking a cigar after graduation.
“My household was in shambles, my mother was screaming on the phone and so was my brother, no one is happy about it,” said Chris Sanderson whose younger brother was suspended.
It’s not the ending any of them wanted, and the mother of one of those suspended players says her son and his friends were just taking part in a tradition that has dated back years, but the school superintendent says rules are rules.
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“It's a tradition, and Saugus is not the only school who does it, all the other schools do it,” said Donna Cucuzza, whose son is one of those suspended from the lacrosse team for Tuesday’s tournament game. “They're all upset, them and their senior friends they were just all upset.”
The school superintendent says he has heard plenty of reaction but was left with no choice.
“It happened, it was brought to our attention and we are compelled to take action on it,” the superintendent said. “This is just, unfortunately, one of those moments, it is a teachable moment.”
Among those suspended were six members of the Saugus High School boys' lacrosse team and one member of the baseball team.
Saugus Public Schools prohibits the use of tobacco products within school buildings or at school-sponsored events.
The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association also bans tobacco use. The rule applies to athletes who have graduated but are still participating in tournament games.
“I just think it’s a little ridiculous that they enforced it, it’s a rule, and I get that it’s a rule, but I mean it’s a tradition for kids in high school,” Sanderson said.
Going forward, the superintendent says next year that more will be done to promote the school’s no-smoking policy.
The school district also told NBC10 Boston that normally this isn’t an issue because games are wrapped up by graduation, but because of weather this season, those games were pushed back to the week after graduation.