Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Day 226: Hazing is Stupid.

Over the past week, I haven't been able to turn on sports radio without hearing about Richie Incognito, the bully. Or Jonathan Martin, the bullied. Or the Dolphins and their dysfunctional organization and lack of locker room control. Or the loads of hazing that goes on in football and other sports and organizations.

Despite its prevalence, hazing is a real shitty thing to do to a teammate. The dictionary defines "team" as "a group of players forming one side in a competitive game or sport" or "two or more people working together." How does beating someone up or insulting and threatening their family build positive relationships? Isn't it necessary to have trust and respect for your teammates in order to form a successful and cohesive unit? Where some think that hazing constructs a stronger bond, I beg to differ. Hazing is more likely to make those victims feel threatened and nervous. So how does that person perform to their abilities if the anxiety of what might happen to them if they fail is haunting them?

Colleges are constantly in a battle with fraternities, sororities and sports teams and clubs over hazing its members, and many are forced to face the reality that sometimes these actions end in serious injury, or in some cases, death. According to a University of Maine study, more than half of college students involved in clubs, teams, and organizations experience hazing. This would explain why we hear about it more often than we should.

It's nearly impossible to believe that coaches are not aware of what these students are doing. The UMaine study says hazing has a public aspect, with 25 percent of coaches or organization advisors aware of a group’s hazing behaviors; 25 percent of the behaviors occurring on campus in a public space; in 25 percent of hazing experiences, alumni were present; and students talk with peers or family (26 percent) about their hazing experiences.

As of this week, the NFL has not yet sent any memos regarding the banning of hazing or guidelines for handling incidents. In Bill Belichick's weekly visit with WEEI's Salk and Holley, he weighed in on his feelings on hazing. Honestly, I'm not sure I've ever heard Belichick talk this in depth about any subject... ever. To read the whole conversation, click here. The whole discussion was interesting coming from the view of a very successful coach, but this comment really struck me as a really great synopsis of the whole situation.
"We’re all grown men. We’re all adults. It’s really about relationships, and if the relationship is not working, then somehow it’s up to the people involved in that relationship to either fix it or resolve it or terminate it, whatever it happens to be."
No one should have to live under the fear of hazing. Sure, sometimes there's a rite of passage to becoming part of a team. That rite should not involve violence, extortion or abusive or threatening words.

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