A sexting scandal that erupted in a Colorado town last week forced one high school to forfeit its final football game of the season in fear of being unable to field a competitive roster.
The Cañon City school district initially received reports of sexting from anonymous tipsters on Nov. 2 and turned the matter over to the local police department, according to a statement posted on the district’s Facebook page on Nov. 4. Students who sent a naked picture of themselves to others or forwarded a naked picture of another student could ultimately be charged with a Class 3 felony, according to the district.
In its statement, the district also explained why it cancelled its final high school football game:
Because a large number of our high school football players were implicated in this behavior the coaching staff and administration, after careful thought and consideration, decided that stepping on the field to play this weekend to represent the Cañon City community is just not an option. We realize this decision will unfairly penalize many of our fine young men who clearly did not participate in these actions. However, we concluded it was impossible to safely field an entire team representative of the personal qualities and characteristics that truly represent the history of the Cañon City High School football program.
At least 100 students were involved in the sexting scandal, according to The New York Times, with a number of the school’s football players “at the center of the sexting ring.” Superintendent George Welsh told the Times that students were circulating 300 to 400 nude pictures of one another.
While the entire football team suffered disciplinary consequences as a result of the scandal, Welsh told the Cañon City Daily Record, “We are 100 percent sure that not all the football players participated in this behavior. We ask the community not to paint every kid on that team for the decisions of some.”
The coaching staff simply couldn’t be sure it could field an entire team of players with no involvement in the scandal, according to the Daily Record.
The district held two separate forums Thursday—one exclusively for football players and their families; the other for the entire community.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Schooled in Sports blog.