The Long Beach Unified School District confirmed it is investigating a locker room slapboxing video involving the Long Beach Poly baseball team that began circulating online over the weekend.
“The safety and well-being of students and staff remains our top priority,” Poly principal Bill Salas wrote in an email to Poly baseball families and school staff. “Please be advised that we are investigating a video circulating on social media…While student matters are confidential, Long Beach Unified takes all safety concerns seriously and emphasizes our commitment to fostering a safe, secure, and nurturing learning environment for all.”
Poly baseball coach Martin Rodriguez, school administration, and the district declined comment on Tuesday, although LBUSD spokesperson Elvia Cano confirmed the district is investigating the video.
The video has been posted by other news organizations–The562’s editorial policy is to not share video from locker rooms without consent.
The video depicts two student athletes “slapboxing” in the Poly baseball locker room following a recent practice. Slapboxing is the practice of two people hitting each other with open hands and not closed fists. As the two students slapped each other, a few dozen other Poly players in the room looked on and cheered; several had their phones out, presumably to film. The two student-athletes hugged after the slapboxing had concluded.
The video gained traction on social media and in media reports in part because hazing remains a national issue in youth and collegiate sports.
The non-profit organization Stop Hazing defines hazing as “any activity expected of someone joining or participating in a group that humiliates, degrades, abuses, or endangers them, regardless of a person’s willingness to participate.”
Hazing has always been a hot-button issue, but has drawn additional scrutiny in Southern California after several highly-publicized incidents over the last few years, including one at Mater Dei which left a football player in need of medical attention; that student-athlete brought a lawsuit that was later dropped.
Whether the Poly baseball slapboxing video constitutes hazing or not, the scene depicted is in violation of LBUSD rules–in addition to the slapboxing fight itself, the student-athletes were in the locker room unsupervised. In the LBUSD Coaches Handbook under the Student Expectation/Supervision segment, it states that coaches must supervise “student-athletes until all have left campus after a practice or game.”
School administrators held a meeting with Poly baseball players and parents on Monday afternoon, according to multiple anonymous sources not authorized to publicly discuss the meeting. The tone of the meeting was supportive of the student-athletes and described the incident as an opportunity for them to learn and grow.
Salas’ email to the Poly baseball community concludes:
“This incident is an opportunity to talk to your child about appropriate conduct and to remind them that their actions and words have consequences. We encourage everyone to continue following the district’s message: If you see something, say something. Thank you for your continued partnership in helping to keep our school community safe.”