‘Cup Check’ Leaves Student in Danger Of Losing Testicles

Micky Balls
SACRAMENTO – A locker room prank as common as the snapped towel has one Ponderosa High School student in danger of felony assault charges and another in danger of losing his testicles.
According to the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Department, a 17-year-old Ponderosa junior performed a “cup check” on his 14-year-old freshman teammate following a snowboard team competition at Sierra-at-Tahoe on Feb. 12.
“They do this thing called the ‘cup check,’ ” said sheriff’s Lt. Kevin House. “It’s this small group of guys that does it to one another.”
A common sports gag, a cup check involves striking a teammate’s groin, ostensibly to determine if he is wearing a protective cup.
In this case, the freshman was not and, according to the sheriff’s report, fell to his knees in pain.
A coach reprimanded the junior, who is not being identified because of his age, and told the team not to conduct any further cup checks. Because the injuries did not appear severe, the coach did not seek medical assistance, said House.
Sometime later, the boy complained to his mother of pain, House said. On Feb. 19, after she noticed her son wincing when he sneezed, she took him to a doctor, who sent him to the emergency room.
There, according to investigators, he was told he had internal bleeding and an infection, and that he could lose one or both of his testicles.
The boy’s parents brought the incident to the attention of Ponderosa High School Assistant Principal Darrin Slojkowski and sheriff’s Deputy Laura Bradshaw, Ponderosa’s school resource officer.
According to the report, the victim said he was struck with a closed fist with the intent to cause damage. The alleged perpetrator told investigators he used an open-hand slap, that it was a joke and that he never meant to hurt his teammate.
The 17-year-old signed a citation and was released to his parents’ custody, House said. The citation is under review and if sufficient cause is found, the boy could face charges of battery causing serious bodily injury, a felony.
Slojkowski said he could not comment because the matter involved privacy concerns of his students.
Dr. Eric A. Kurzrock, chief of pediatric urology at UC Davis Children’s Hospital, said that in his 16-year medical career, he had never seen a patient who needed both testicles removed.
Speaking generally, Kurzrock said the injury most likely to lead to removal of a testicle is a fracture, in which the outer layer of the testicle, which is made up of collagen and other tissue, is cracked by some sort of impact.
Minor fractures can be sewn back together, he said. Severe fractures that cause extensive bleeding usually lead to immediate removal of the injured testicle.
“It’s usually a kick that does it, or skateboards and snowboards when you’re doing a trick,” he said.
Kurzrock estimated that the UC Davis Trauma Center treats two to four testicular fractures per year.
If the student has his testicles removed, he’ll need a lifetime of testosterone replacement shots, especially now that he’s going through puberty, Kurzrock said. Any viable sperm in the testicles would need to be frozen if he hopes to reproduce.
One Ponderosa student said that while activities like cup checks are ubiquitous wherever teenage boys gather, the practice isn’t excessive at the school.
Jason Dyer, a 17-year-old senior at Ponderosa, has spent four years on the school’s football team and two years on its wrestling team.
“It’s just as prevalent as any football thing,” he said of cup checks. “We don’t do it excessively.”
While Dyer said he’s heard of hazing rituals taking place for younger athletes at other schools, he said he’s seen none of that at Ponderosa.
“We get serious (about sports) around here,” he said.
from The Sacramento Bee

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