On High School Sports and Sexting

Cañon City, Colorado is a small quaint town, usually associated with the nearby Federal Penitentiary and local wineries. It is much more than that. However, it is not a hotbed of prurience, drugs or drinking, any more than any other town in America, including yours or mine.

A sexting scandal erupted at the high school that involved about one-third of the school and half of the football team. Literally, hundreds of children.

Canon CityEssentially the kids, both boys and girls, were trading images of themselves; nude, semi-nude and in provocative underwear. The kids were as young as middle school.

The city’s fathers and mothers, the school administration and law enforcement are all indignant and shocked. The football team will not be allowed to take to the field to represent the community at the last game of the year. Not surprisingly, the “authorities” are falling all over themselves to speechify, rant and rave. Perhaps they should first turn the cameras on themselves.

The football team is “us”

I won’t get on board the Cañon City football team-bashing bandwagon, thank you. For this discussion to begin and end with 30 or 40 football players plus hundreds of other kids is absolutely ludicrous. No, it is downright unethical.

I will start with a television commercial I saw this morning for, I think, frozen pancakes or waffles. The commercial showed a teenaged girl on her mobile device as she came to the breakfast table.

The voice-over said the kid hadn’t put her phone down all week. The commercial showed the parents with furrowed brows as the kid was about to text at the table, and then their worries turned to happiness as the girl put down the phone and enjoyed the waffles.

I am there on the stair climber (I was in the gym) thinking, “’Man-up,’ both of you. Tell your 13 year-old to turn the damn thing off or leave the table!” Were you afraid that had you said that, she might not be your best friend?

So to my first point. When did our technology become so pervasive that we have not only given our lives over to a stupid, rectangular object, but we are powerless to control it? I can blame the football team, sure but I am more inclined to blame those in authority who seem unable to control it even in their own households.

The mobile device is a great invention and I am the last to deny it. However, for many people it has become a friend, mentor, babysitter and god. The mobile device often becomes the focus of conversation and it detaches us from each other. Think I am wrong? Look around the next time you go out to eat; entire families ignore one another while texting.

My second point is entertainment and the media. We have allowed the media to become so over-sexualized and so without boundary that good taste and common sense have been thrown under a steam-roller. This social phenomenon did not happen last month in Cañon City but has been developing for decades.

Please do not trot out tired First Amendment arguments. Please do not turn it into politics, Left or Right. The parents and administrators in Cañon City who are now reacting to the over-sexualization of their children, are also in the mix. From the morning news to movies and music videos, we have become completely focused on objectification of men and women, body shaming and unattainable physical standards. Virtually no one says a thing.

What or who would lead a 13 year-old girl or boy to have so little respect for themselves to display themselves in cyber-space? Respect is taught. I am not taking a religious stance nor Progressive or Conservative. I am instead an advocate for teaching children boundaries. I am not alone. Psychologists, Psychiatrists and Social Workers have been screaming about this for years. If anyone reading this post believes that Cañon City, Colorado is the only community in America where this is occurring, then perhaps my next post should be about delusional thinking.

My final point is about ethics. Every choice has a consequence. The football players in question and every other child involved in this scandal are laughing. There is no contrition and there is no shame. They are laughing because they see the hypocrisy. What they don’t yet see are the consequences.

 I would have let them play the game.

However, I would have kept the stands empty. They don’t deserve cheers and applause. In our society, children often come to believe that everything is about them. It is not. It should be about all of us.

Instead of attending the game, the parents and teachers could have had their own meeting. At the meeting, someone might have asked how it came to be that these children becamee so disconnected from common sense, values and good ethical standards, that they developed no standards at all.


(Written by Chuck Gallagher and Bruce Wolk)

For more information:

Chuck Gallagher, President and Co-founder, Sports Ethics, LLC

(828) 244-1400



Leave a Reply

Connect with Us


Phone: (828) 244-1400
Fax: (866) 426-4118
Chuck Gallagher
3620 Pelham Road #305
Greenville, SC 29615