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Hazing News

Clay County, Florida commentary — Wrestling, Fleming Island High School

Florida Times-Union – Jacksonville,FL,USA: We have all heard the troubling story of the hazing incident conducted by members of the wrestling team at Fleming Island High School.

Not condoned by one member. But several.

The actual hazing was broadcast on YouTube, meaning it’s bad enough that these things are going on but Internet technology now allows such deeds to be broadcast to the world. If it’s not YouTube, then there are thousands of other Web sites to post an unedited, uncensored video. Search on YouTube right now, and you’ll find 600 hazing-related videos.

Even more telling: Do a google search on hazing, and 1.6 million entries pop up.

The most simplest of questions: What’s the point?

Is sticking one’s butt or other part of one’s body in someone’s face some sort of crazed rite of manhood – or, at least it seems to me, childhood?

No. Just stupidity.

Hazing is outlawed in Florida even with the consent of the person being hazed, and punishable up to a third-degree felony. Whether there are charges or not, those guilty wrestlers shouldn’t face a suspension. They should be booted off the team. Period. You want to send a serious message about hazing and how a school district (yes, the entire district, not just one school and not just one athletics department) is going to handle such nonsense? Then be serious in your punishments. Send a message.

Sports teams, from the high school levels to professional ranks, are full of initiations and pranks. College football freshmen sing their school song at preseason practices to entertain the upperclassmen. Rookies in Major League Baseball get a pie in the face. Many an athlete has returned from the shower room to find his or her clothes disappeared.

Those are harmless pranks; everybody gets a good laugh.

I once saw a Boston Red Sox player put a ring of glue on the floor in the locker room around a rookie reporter, and light it on fire. No danger, really; just a ring of fire. The player glanced at me as he was doing it, whispering “ssssssh.” And I went along with it, while chuckling.

Then again, there have been other deeds in the locker room I would not be silenced over.

What happened at Fleming Island should be a strong message to every other high school in the county. This won’t be tolerated. There should be a public apology. The school district should set up mandatory classes for all coaches and all athletes to attend. No longer should it be acceptable for coaches to turn their heads or senior captains in any sport to be the instigators because they remember what happened to them in their freshman years.

Let’s end it.

By Hank Nuwer

Hank Nuwer is the Indiana-based author of Broken Pledges: The Deadly Rite of Hazing, High School Hazing, Wrongs of Passage and The Hazing Reader. He has written articles or columns on hazing for the Sunday Times of India, Toronto Globe & Mail, Harper's Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, The Chronicle of Higher Education and the New York Times Sunday Magazine. His new book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press.

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