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Hazing News

Where have you gone, Joe Dimaggio? Joltin’ Joe (and Yankee class) have gone away.

Hey, hey, hey.

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Column by John Ames: Hazing – the practice of forcing rookies and newcomers to perform abusive and humiliating acts – has long been a tradition in baseball, as well as many other sports and organizations. This does not make it right.

In professional baseball, hazing usually comes in the form of being forced to dress inappropriately for road trips or to perform menial clubhouse tasks for the veteran teammates. It’s always worth some yuks among the media and fans.

Unfortunately, humiliation is mental abuse, so no matter how you slice it hazing is an antiquated practice. Yet it has its defenders. They argue that hazing builds a bond among teammates. I don’t get it. How is forcing someone into a slave role good for team-building? A better way to build team character is to identify a goal and work toward that goal together – equally.

Look at this list of sports hazing incidents and remove them from the context of “hazing.” Consider each as if it were being done to you or one of your children, but not as a rite of initiation. Hopefully it’ll make you wonder as I do how anyone can minimize the serious nature of these incidents.

According to StopHazing.org, six states have yet to outlaw hazing. What is holding back these states? Who is arguing against such legislation? What will it take to create enough of a public outcry to push these states to catch up with the rest of the country?

Look at the Michael Vick case in comparison. Is dogfighting any worse than allowing the abuse of our youth to continue in these six states all in the name of athletic competition and tradition?

So back to baseball. At first glance, the picture above is humorous. And I’m sure none of the players involved suffered any long-term injuries – physically or mentally – by being forced to parade around in what amounts to Halloween costumes.

But maybe MLB (and other pro sports leagues) should consider banning such behavior. If only to send a message that hazing is old-fashioned, unnecessary and, above all, potentially dangerous.

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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