by Conor Friedersdorf
The story: a high school boy uses a move wrestling coaches taught him, and is charged with sexual battery.
Here's how The Advocate describes it:
Preston Hill, a Buchanan High School student from Clovis, Calif., was punished for his use of the "butt drag," in which a wrestler grabs his opponent's butt cheeks and places his finger in the opponent's anus for leverage, according to the Fresno Bee. Hill's trial before the Fresno County Superior Court begins Thursday. Hill's father said coaches taught his son the "butt drag" when he was in middle school and that it was a common move.
The Dish linked the NYT account before without comment.
YouTube videos like this one persuade me that the "butt drag" is indeed a widely known and officially sanctioned move. I'm uninterested in commenting directly on the case against Preston Hill; I have no idea what actually happened. But it spurred me to ponder this truth: athletes from the high school level right on up engage in behavior inside locker rooms and on the field or court or rink or hell, even among friends that would be prosecuted vociferously if they happened in a different context.
I think back to high school. One guy on the football team was known for quietly creeping behind other guys sitting on the long wooden benches in the locker room and dangling his penis over their shoulders, provoking all sorts of laughter as the object of the prank slowly noticed what was going on. In college, I once visited a friend at another school, where it was common for guys to say to someone else, "Oh man, my watch is broken." You'd naturally glance down, where that very same body part would be stretched over their wrist in what they called a fleshy band. The fraternity guys found this to be hilarious.
As someone who groaned good naturedly upon being unwittingly shown "the broken watch," I can confidently say both that being tricked to look upon it isn't exactly pleasant, and that I'd hate for a guy enamored of the prank to be charged with indecent exposure and placed on a sex offender resgistry for having done it at age 20 or 21. The tricky thing about this sort of humor is that it can get much more serious. High school friends told me about hazing they witnessed during college that ought to be against the law and prosecuted. Pomona College once expelled a fraternity from campus for the predictable acts with a sheep.
Folks who don't play sports are presumably ignorant about what goes on underwater during water polo games, the pranks played in football locker rooms, the fact that male soccer players in competitive leagues inevitably get their testicles grabbed, or the truth that collegiate runners tend at one time or another to streak through campus or around the track. As a high school tennis player and a college participant only in intramural inner-tube water polo, I was somewhat removed from this culture. So I'll confine my remarks to these observations: this stuff is common in every high school and college campus in America; and whether or not they begin to be prosecuted as crimes, I'd prefer, as a future parent, that participating kids aren't tried as sex offenders and placed on registries intended to warn us about very different sorts of proclivities, even if the more serious transgressions are sanctioned.