Hazing. It’s something we hear about on college campuses all the time, especially when it comes to greek life. But what about sports teams? In light of the recent hazing allegation in the NFL, it made me question how hazing can reach all the way up to the professional level, and how they enforce hazing policies in the younger leagues.
It’s typical for athletes to go through a hazing prevention workshop during orientation weeks, and everyone is required to sign forms, but how does it still happen? I think that it starts all the way at the bottom in junior leagues. While teams are taught to bond and work towards the common goal of winning, there is still a hierarchy within teams that inadvertently promotes hazing.
While it may seem harmless to tell a freshman to do your laundry, or grab your equipment after practice, it’s still hazing. A practical joke on a teammate can also be categorized as hazing. It may not be violent or shameful, but you’re still using your younger teammates to your advantage, and it continues the mentality that it’s okay to be doing this. I understand that sometimes it’s used as a tool to bond, and to teach discipline and respect, but respect should be carried both ways up the class ranks.
Rather than playing into the hierarchy system of freshman vs. senior, there should be more than just one orientation at the beginning of the year. If teams could start promoting team bonding events that don’t involve a separation of the classes, I think that it would go a long way to nipping the problem of hazing in the bud.
The bottom line is that the younger kids on the team are still on the team. Everyone is working towards the same goal, so why not work together instead of pushing others around? It doesn’t matter that someone is younger than you, or hasn’t been on the team as long, the only way to let them know that they are accepted and welcome is to follow the golden rule: treat them the way that you would like to be treated.