Preston Hill, a 17-year-old wrestler at Buchanan High School in Clovis, California, has been charged with sexual assault and suspended from school for executing a controversial wrestling move on one of his younger teammates.
According to The New York Times:
According to a police report, during a July practice Preston used a maneuver informally known as a “butt drag”—which involves grabbing the haunch of an opponent to gain leverage—to roughly and intimately assault a smaller, younger wrestler on his team in retaliation for a supposed affront.
The accuser, an unnamed 14-year-old, said that Hill and other teammates repeatedly bullied him. Then, on July 15, after refusing to give Hill his water, Hill executed the “butt drag” on him during practice.
According to the Fresno Bee:
There’s no formal definition of the “butt drag,” but coaches say it involves grabbing the butt cheek of a rival. Coaches vary on how often anal penetration occurs, but they say that it should never be intentional. The move does not involve skin-on-skin contact; the wrestler practicing the move is pushing his fingers against his opponent’s uniform.
Hill was offered a deal by the district attorney, but he refused, saying of the move, “everyone does” it—it’s used “to motivate people who don’t move on the mats.”
His father, Darren Hill, told the Fresno Bee:
It just doesn’t make sense. His coaches taught him the move when he was in middle school. All the wrestlers use it and my son did it in front of his coaches at a school-sponsored event.
However, Dennis DeLiddo, a former wrestling coach at Fresno State University, told the Times the “butt drag” is not an acceptable move:
There’s absolutely no advantage in doing that. And we don’t want guys like that in the sport anyway, if they’re probing.
I don’t know the motive behind this, but I’m here to defend the sport. That sort of thing has got nothing to do with wrestling.
The accuser’s father, Ross Rice, admitted it would have been easier not to press charges, but he still felt the need to:
But that’s the wrong attitude. That’s when you can end up with a Columbine situation.
The trail begins on January 13.
Obviously, this case raises numerous questions and problems in regard to wrestling culture, high-school bullying, and possibly even homosexuality. But what’s most interesting is that it gets at that point where sports and society rub up against each other.
A ton of stuff happens in sports that would be completely unacceptable in the everyday run of society. Whether it’s grabbing a guy’s balls on a corner kick in soccer, gouging an opponent’s eyes in a fumble pile, or fist-fighting in hockey, that’s all OK because it happens in sports—a removed realm for however long a game lasts. But if you remove the sports label, it’s just a guy grabbing another guy’s balls, one man stabbing someone in the eyes, and two dudes brawling—all possibly criminal offenses.
So where to draw the line? How do you determine the intent? It’s real fuzzy territory, and it’s a dangerous area to get into. Only Preston Hill knows what he was really trying to do, and if he was just doing what his coaches taught him, does that make it fine?
What do you guys think? Which side are you on? Or are you somewhere between? Let us know.
—Photo via Wikimedia Commons