I don’t feel like the coaches or teachers have done anything wrong in the current situation given current expectations but moving forward expectations and accountability need to be tightened up.
When I was a football captain many years ago, I remember the head coach calling the captains in and saying he knew initiation was coming up. He told us to be smart and not to let things get out of hand and then sent us on our way. For the standard of the time, I think that was an enlightened approach because I suspect most coaches nationwide just turned a completely blind eye.
The bar is higher now. A coach should meet with each captain one on one at the beginning of the year and be clear on the direction, culture and tone he is trying to set. He should be clear on his expectations of the role he expects his captain to play in establishing the culture. He should coach the captain on how to play that leadership role. These student roles are invaluable low risk leadership opportunities and students should be deliberately coached to get the most out of them.
There should be periodic one on one check ins with the captains throughout the year on whether the objectives for culture and tone are being achieved. The coach should ask specific questions and demand specific answers to ensure respectful behavior. The captain needs to understand that he is a partner in establishing the success of the team and this is not squealing. The whole team needs to be coached in how to respectfully push each other towards excellence. Coaches should check in with privately with players throughout the year to ensure goals are being achieved and respectful behavior is being demonstrated.