Streaking down the football field in St. Francis is no laughing matter. It's a crime.
St. Francis High School students have been disciplined for streaking at three Saints football games this season, and one of the teenagers could be charged with criminal sexual conduct because of his nudity. The 17-year-old's arrest at the Sept. 25 homecoming game brought angry students out of the stands.
"It was on the edge of being out of control," said Police Chief Jeff Harapat. "More than 500 kids surrounded the two officers, swearing, throwing pop bottles and tennis shoes. ... I guess they were upset that one of their fellow students was being arrested."
Another 17-year-old student was arrested for obstruction with force, disorderly conduct, possession small amount of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Harapat said the au naturel hijinks started a couple of years ago during the homecoming game. A streaker struck during last year's homecoming game and so police were ready this year. But a student "making poor choices" decided to streak at the first game of the season, likely in a game of "one-upmanship." Another streaking incident followed at one of the team's away games. By homecoming, the police were ready with blankets to take anyone into custody who decided to run naked.
Harapat said this isn't the type of behavior that he and others want to shrug off as "kids will be kids."
"At what level of a crime does that stop? For example, if you're at McDonald's and having a Happy Meal with your kids and some adult male gets kicked out because he isn't wearing a shirt. And he obviously isn't right in the head and he goes outside, pulls his pants down and pushes his butt up against the glass while you're eating. ... Now tell me what the difference is when we fill a stadium with parents, minor children, and some very small children and we have naked people running across the field," he said.
School officials received calls from "disgusted parents," complaining that they brought their child to a "G"-rated event and "Look what it turns into,'' Harapat said. "No, it's not a kids-will-be-kids matter."
With the threat of school disciplinary measures and criminal charges, school and police officials may have thrown enough cold water on streaking to stop it.
Harapat pointed out that the last football game was streaker-free.
"The kids were consequenced," District Superintendent Edward Saxton said, adding that the students, all boys, received suspensions ranging from one to 10 days.
While this latest streak of streaking is an amusing prank for some, others say they are frustrated by the negative attention it's bringing to the school. And for some on the football team, the streaking has become a sore point.
"Sometimes the fans are cheering more for the streakers than they are for us," said senior offensive lineman Nick Mulcare. "I really don't like it."