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Editorial: Put an end to hazing in pro sports and put a dent in high school hazing practices

High school hazing is just another form of bullying that won’t go away as long as one adult turns a head instead of doing the right thing and speaking out.  You can help.
–Start by screaming at newspaper editors whose sportswriters  set a bad example for teen athletes by writing articles and columns in praise of pro football and baseball hazing “traditions”.  Hazing is another form of unethical conduct that fits in easily in a sports world where steroid use, cheating, and felons-on-the-field exist.
–Start by writing letters of praise to newspaper editors who assign stories probing hazing in professional sports.
–Start by voting out school board members and firing coaches and principals who either can’t or won’t pass formal hazing policies or perpetuate idiotic practices such as “Freshman Kill Day.” Pat those coaches, athletic directors and board members on the back who say they have had it up to here with hazing–especially with alcohol, hitting, or displays of degrading behavior. Praise those coaches who patrol lockerrooms and buses, or have a responsible adult do so for them. Praise athletic directors who build team spirit with structured team dinners, outings, and team-building exercises.
–But mostly, start with your own son or daughter. Teach them to speak out and confront hazers.  Teach them to mentor younger players, not make sport of them or touch them inappropriately. Remember, the degrading hazing behavior you stop in high school may also cause your son or daughter to despise hazing in college and on the job years later.
–HN

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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