Hazing in athletics also known as “initiations” are thought of as team building or team unity activities. The NCAA classifies hazing as an activity where a person feels obligated to participate in that humiliates, degrades, abuses or endangers, regardless of the person’s willingness (Allan & DeAngelis, 2004). Allan and DeAngelis (2004) state that one reason people in athletics partake in hazing is because they perceive a major portion of their personal identity in athletics. Athletes fear that they will lose their status or acceptance into their sporting group if they do not do the hazing activity. As many as 800,000 United States high school athletes encounter a form of hazing every year (Fields, Collins, & Comstock, 2010). This will continue to happen if not increase every year if the status quo of the myth that hazing brings a team together is not changed.
One feat that has to be overcome is creating appropriate punishments for people who haze others (Fields, Collins, & Comstock, 2010). In addition to punishments, to reduce the amount of hazing that occurs in athletics education on what is classified as hazing is needed. Hazing is much more than the typical “kidnappings” or drinking games that initiates must go through to gain acceptance into their sport group. It can extend to race, fear of femininity for males, fear of masculinity for females, homophobia, etc. Males who participate in collision sports want to live up to a vision of masculinity avoiding anything that would label them a girl or a homosexual (Allan & DeAngelis, 2004). Homophobia is not exclusive to males, females can create a homonegative environment and perpetuate negative stereotypes, victimize females who are lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or perceived as lesbian (Barber & Krane, 2007). If a team has a homonegative environment, it can cause some girls and women to leave a sport for a “feminine” one because of stereotype they have been given or because of the discrimination they are receiving.
The video we watched in class was an example of homonegativism and heterosexism. The women’s basketball coach at Penn State, Rene Portland, had three training rules on her team “no drinking, no drugs, and no lesbians” (Training Rules, 2008). She drove away players who she knew to be or suspected as lesbians away from her basketball program. The Gulas twins who played for Rene Portland in the 1970s went through psychological abuse that eventually took their love of the game away and prompted them to quit the team before she could kick them off. Portland did this because of the twin’s sexual orientation, not because of their basketball skills. This behavior of Portland’s continued even with Penn State adding sexual orientation to a list of things including race and ethnicity where it can be discriminated against. It took Jennifer Harris, a freshman, to stop Portland from coaching at Penn State so other women would not have to endure a hostile, homophobic environment. The treatment that Harris received from Portland caused her to have depression. Barber and Kane (2007) cite depression along with low self-esteem, low confidence, frustration, and feeling of isolation to occur when faced with a heterosexist environment as Harris did.
What was apparent from the hazing and homophobia topics covered last week was the how much farther both topics need to advance. It shocked me that situation at Penn State with coach Rene Portland occurred in the 21st century. A coach should be a person that gives respect equally to all of their players regardless of the athlete’s personal choices. Like we discussed in class being a coach you could possibly be the athlete’s only outlet for support.
-Allan & DeAngelis. (2004). Hazing, masculinity and collision sports: (Un)Becoming heroes. Making the team: Inside the world of sport initiations and hazing. Toronto, Ontario: Canadian Scholar’s Press, Inc.
-Barber & Krane. (2007). Creating inclusive and positive environment in girls’ and womens’ sport: Position statement on homophobia, homonegativism and heterosexism. Bowling Green State University.
-Fields, Collins, & Comstock. (2010). Violence in youth sports: hazing, brawling and foul play. British Journal of Sports Medicine (44), 32-37.
-Training Day (2008).