Center Grove shames itself during and after student mocks Cathedral basketball player with epilepsy

Over and over again, we say it.  Just be nice to each other.  Treat each other with respect and accommodation.  Be generous with compliments, and tolerant with weaknesses.

On Friday night at Center Grove High School, one insolent and callous young man decided cruelty was a better idea.

During a basketball game between Center Grove and Cathedral, James Franklin Jr. shot free throws while a student from Center Grove flopped onto the court and pretended to convulse.  Franklin suffers from epilepsy, and the faux seizure was meant to distract him.

In fact, a year ago, Franklin had brain surgery to alleviate the symptoms of the epilepsy.

Brave young man overcoming adversity, meet a buffoon whose joy is derived from calling attention to himself through overt mockery.

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Students near the buffoon appeared to be entertained, which makes them no better than the buffoon himself.

There is plenty of shame to go around in this debacle.  School administrators did nothing to stop or condemn the behavior.  They released a statement.  Of course they did.  Administrators are always releasing statements – and not surprisingly it does not condemn the buffoon:

“Members of the administrative team and athletic department at CGHS are aware of the concerns raised about student behavior at the Cathedral basketball game Friday night. We are working collaboratively with the administrative staff and athletic department at Cathedral to address these issues. Our goal is to always create an environment where sportsmanship and quality competition can thrive. We do not condone any behavior intended to mock, disparage or humiliate any player or student.”

Great job, Center Grove.  Stellar stuff.  I hope your students embrace your lesson that admitting wrong is poor form these days.  While you don’t condone behavior intended to mock and humiliate, you don’t reprimand it either.  You don’t even acknowledge its occurrence.

The bit about working collaboratively with Cathedral is a nice touch too.  It almost seems you are assessing a shared blame in the activities of your student at your school.

There was a time when consequences were swift against students who acted against the best interests of other students.  Today at Center Grove, those actions (in the abstract) are said to be “not condoned”.  Way to educate.

Students are bombarded with words about sensitivity, but when confronted with insensitivity, clever but meaningless statements are issued.

Problem not solved.

Kent Sterling hosts the fastest growing sportstalk show in Indianapolis on CBS Sports 1430 every weekday from 3p-7p, and writes about Indiana sports at

3 thoughts on “Center Grove shames itself during and after student mocks Cathedral basketball player with epilepsy

    1. Pepper Ducar

      As a 38 year Epileptic, former competitive ice skater and current roller derby athlete, I appreciate your honest take on this horrible situation. This was the article I needed to read to help me contain my fury on this situation. Thank you.

  1. John Humphrey

    Hey Ken
    I really enjoy your no bullshit take on basketball in Indiana.
    I grew up in Chesterton Indiana and graduated from IU. We
    have lived in Iowa City since 1974, but I still suffer from Hoosier Hysteria .
    I retired 8 years ago after working in public education for 42 years. My last ten years I was
    a high school assistant principal and principal in Cedar Rapids.
    Your report on the Center Grove Flopper got my attention.
    Here is my take on it:

    Really Ken? Some kid in a high school cheering section did something classless, ridiculous, and awful at a basketball game?
    I was on duty for many basketball games as an assistant principal and nothing coming from a kid in a high school cheering section would surprise me.
    Oh yes, during my days on duty at high school basketball games in the nineties I pined for my high school days in the early sixties in Indiana when my high school friends and I bounced up and down on yellow school buses to travel to the away basketball games. We packed the stands in our clean white shirts . And we clapped in unison and screamed every word to every cheer performed by the cheerleaders. And we stood with pride to sing the fight song: “ON you Trojans, On you Trojans, best team that we know……..
    Most of the asshole behavior occurred outside the gym. Like when some guys from Valpo, our arch rivals, climbed up the huge water tower in town and under the water tower sign “Home of the Trojans” added the postscript “Prelubed”.

    You mentioned turning this flopping incident into something positive. That would be nice. But I think this Center Grove Flopper story is about preparing for and handling asshole behavior.
    IF you work in a high school you will see asshole behavior. It is part of the territory. And asshole behavior is more likely to occur at a basketball game compared to an AP Latin class.
    So you gear up for it.
    I remember a cartoon from the late sixties. A young boy was sitting on his father’s lap. He was looking up at his father and said, “Hey dad. What would happen if they stopped making assholes?” “Don’t worry son” replied dad, “there will always be enough to go around.”
    We all face this question in education: How do you handle asshole behavior. I didn’t say assholes. I said asshole behavior. Because even kids destined for the Nobel Peace Prize can still act like an asshole. Yes, even kids on the debate team and the clarinet section in the band will do stupid stuff.
    The best way to send a message to students about ridiculous, awful behavior in a gym is to have school staff on the gym floor. The message is clear: You see that coach and principal standing over there? If you act like an asshole they will kick you out of the gym and you will not watch basketball for the rest of the season.

    In the nineties I was an assistant principal at Cedar Rapids Washington High School. We were ranked as one of the top high schools in the country. Wonderful kids attended our school. But we always had three administrators on the floor at home basketball games and had at least two in the stands at away games. At home games I actually enjoyed walking the sideline by the student section when I was an assistant principal. During the game I enjoyed talking and high fiving the students. But I was also close enough to go into the stands if someone was acting like an asshole. If one of our kids would have flopped on the floor and yelled something about a seizure I would have taken him out of the gym. The next morning at school we would have discussed his consequences. But he would have been escorted out of the gym immediately.

    Finally, this incident needs to be treated differently than say an attack on a referee after a bad call. This stuff ended up as a nasty, vicious attack on a student struggling to deal with epilepsy. The flopper needs to be confronted with this so he might begin to understand the pain he caused to another human being. If the player was up for it, a face to face meeting with the two could end up being the something positive you mentioned. I would hope so.


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