Hazing, College Sports Essay

In an August 2000 study funded by New York’s Alfred University, 79 percent of college athletes surveyed in the United States have been subjected to hazing. The same study shows that only 12 per cent of athletes think what they went through is hazing. (Keller) The growing epidemic of hazing rituals on the college campus begs the question: Should hazing be allowed on college sports teams? Hazing is a vital part of forming a close-knit unit whether it is for college athletics or even professional athletics.

Performing a hazing ritual, as long as it is supervised, should be allowed when initiating rookies into a college athletic team. There should be specific rituals that are allowed, such as rookies having to carry the senior’s bags. These rituals should be approved by the administration and overseen by the coaches. When a student signs up to be on a college athletic team, he or she does not sign a contract stating that he or she is willing to go through embarrassing and humiliating circumstances in order to be on said team.

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However, when hazing rituals occur there is not a person holding a gun to his or her head or forcing him or her to go through with it. This lack of force shows consent on the part of perspective players. Ichiro Suzuki stated that when he and three others went through an initiation ritual where he was told to wear a hooters outfit for a day, he got such a kick out of it he actually wore it home to see his wife. (Keller) Though some may say it’s not fair to those who do not wish to be subjected to hazing, a player must be willing to sacrifice for his or her team.

Hazing should be overseen by the coach and therefore closely monitored to keep it from getting out of hand. On a sports team there is a necessary hierarchy among the players and hazing helps to promote this. When rookies are hazed, they learn their place at the bottom of the rung. They also learn that those doing the hazing, namely the seniors of the team, are their superiors and are to be respected. Some day these rookies will too become seniors and the hazing pushes them to move up the ladder and perform better than they would with no incentives.

Although many would argue that on a sports team everyone should be equal, the fact of the matter is that those who have been on the team longer are more valuable. They have already proven themselves willing to sacrifice for the team. They are good roll models for the rookies. Another argument is that newcomers should be welcomed to the team rather than tested when they first join. The hazing ritual is a part of the newcomers welcoming to the team. Also, if a lax entry is taken, then the rookies believe that playing for this team will be easy and they will not have to make any sacrifice.

In order for a team to work together, there must be unity among the team. Hazing is a bonding experience for the team. Hazing in groups dates back to 400 BC when the Spartans, an elite fighting group would take young men from their families at an early age and train them to fight. They would then throw them out into the wild and the young Spartan would have to survive for 3 days before he could become a warrior. These are the same men that stood together against thousands. The unity and sacrifice brought on by the initial hazing is what made the Spartans so successful. Keller) Although there is no suggestion to throw the rookies on the college hockey team into the wild, making a rookie carry all of the player’s gear instead of just his or her own is not disastrous. Although many would find this behavior insulting, it is necessary to find out how much a rookie is willing to sacrifice for the team because, for example, on a hockey team a player never knows when he is going to have to throw down with the toughest player on the other team in order to defend his teammates.

One way to find this out is to ask pledges to engage in activities they find degrading or insulting. Just as courtly love sees the knight proving his love for the woman through sacrifice, so hazing involves sacrificing something the initiate holds dear, for example, his masculinity for an evening, to prove his devotion to the team. Dr. Susan Lipkins, a psychologist for over twenty years, is a leading expert in the field of hazing. She specializes in campus conflict and violence in high schools and colleges. She states that hazing, as long as it is not violent or abusive can be beneficial to a team.

She also states that the reason why hazing causes problems is that there are times where those performing the initiation go above and beyond what was done to them. Things then get out of control and turn dangerous. This is why there needs to be set rules that are upheld by students and coaches on what hazing rituals are accepted. She states very clearly in her writing that minor hazing has no detrimental psychological effects on college athletes. (Reel Psychology) Hazing rituals have been performed for thousands of years. There is no way to make them cease and even if there were, it would not be beneficial to the team.

Hazing for college athletics is a necessary part of building a team. The coaches should closely monitor it and rules should be laid down as to how far hazing rituals can go. The benefits of hazing far out way the costs. When monitored correctly this really isn’t a cost. Hazing shows the team how bad a rookie wants in, and how far he or she is willing to go in order to be on the team. It shows dedication and a willingness to sacrifice something that he or she hold dear. Hazing rituals build a team by first tearing the players down.


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