Photo controversy packs powerful lesson for youth

It’s been a long week for the West Marshall Trojans.

With its team in the spotlight, the high school wrestlers ended their team postseason with a seventh-place trophy and a hard-earned lesson.

The wrestlers stirred controversy and made statewide news when a photo of the wrestlers spelling out an obscene phrase on their arms was posted on Instagram.

Standing together the young men spelled out the phrase “FTHEDONS” before the meet with Don Bosco of Gilbertville. The Trojans went on to qualify for state duals that night.

When the photo was posted to Instagram, a photo sharing and social media service, the bad judgment quickly spilled into the hands of the media. While embarrassing to the students, school and community, it was a relevant news story.

Having made face-to-face apologies to the Don Bosco team, West Marshall was cleared for the state mats by its school board. The Trojan wrestlers involved with the photo were each punished with 40 hours of community service.

The West Marshall School Board made the right choice in handing down this decision about its student wrestlers this week.

Quite simply it was an act of immaturity. While we do hold our student athletes in high regard as role models, we know teenagers are bound to make mistakes.

However, the photo controversy does pack a powerful lesson for teens and parents alike. Social media is a powerful tool, and with that power comes responsibility.

Locally parents are sitting down with their children and having perhaps their first chat about social media. Others are reiterating what is appropriate when it comes to online posts. As the story made its way across Iowa, it reached more parents and teenagers. We think it’s likely that this act of poor judgement has influenced many with a powerful lesson and conversation.

So it is time for the West Marshall Trojans to move forward from this controversy, with a hard-earned lesson.