Excerpt: copyright Athletic Business
Though never hazed as a college athlete or team manager himself, Hank Nuwer has had an interest in hazing ever since he, as the University of Nevada-Reno’s graduate student president, witnessed a student frothing at the mouth under a pool table from excess alcohol consumption. It was an episode that Nuwer didn’t report to police and, subsequently, the same group of perpetrators hazed and killed a football player. It was 1975, and Nuwer began compiling a database of hazing-related fatalities — the Unofficial Hazing Clearinghouse — that he still maintains today. A former Human Behavior and Inside Sports reporter and the current managing editor of the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner in Alaska, the 77-year-old has also authored five nonfiction books on hazing, one fictional novel, and too many book chapters and articles to count. AB senior editor Paul Steinbach, having posted two unrelated hazing accounts to AB Today on July 19, talked to Nuwer — who was working on an introduction for the forthcoming scholarly book Hazing In The New Millenia — about the persistence of a practice that can ruin careers and end lives.
Are you noticing any trends in your data?
In terms of deaths, there hasn’t been one for a while, which is good, because it had been every year from ’59 to 2021. It’s not long enough to say that’s a trend and it’s ended, that’s for sure, because there have been so many close calls. If I could go back, I would have kept track of the close calls. The problem is a lot of the close calls never make the paper.
How do you monitor hazing cases for the Clearinghouse? Does it take a headline about a fatality?
Or, and very commonly, even before it hits the paper, an email — because of the database. Not every parent, but when there’s a death, nearly all of them will be on the phone or calling hazing prevention to get my number.