I read your article “Hazing allegations continue at summer athletic camps’’ (Sept. 22), and felt a need to write. This summer, we completed the 53d season of the Red Auerbach Basketball School, of which I am the director. This is a basketball camp for young men 12 to 18 years old. We are not a team camp and we have enrolled youngsters from all over, including Iceland, Israel, England, and across the United States.
Hazing and bullying are things we discuss throughout the week of camp. Our coaches talk about family, friendships, academics, and about making the right choices. We don’t preach to kids about not hazing and not bullying. We assume they aren’t and won’t be practicing these negatives. We talk with respect to our kids, our athletes, taking the lead in being sure it doesn’t happen. We tell them that as athletes they need to be role models in their schools. We tell them that they have an obligation to make a friend of someone who may not have one. We tell them that you can’t erase the spoken word, and they need to be the ones to be sure the practice of hazing, teasing, and bullying just doesn’t fly.
We have had a lot of good kids that have gone through the Auerbach School over more than 50 years, and to think we have reached them all would be crazy. But we feel good about what we are trying to do. We know we are teaching more than basketball and that we can awaken the good spirits in kids to do the right thing.
I believe our approach is good. We make no threats or ultimatums. Our kids get the message; whether they make the right decision all the time is up to them.
We feel we have gone the extra mile to help make our kids better basketball players and better people. I am sure there are other camps that do a good job with kids and make a summer sports program worthwhile. It can be done.