There are few stories that come across my inbox that make me more mad than hazing stories. The latest comes from yet another sports franchise that "prides" itself on its hazing tradition: The Boston Red Sox. In the latest round, last Thursday they forced the rookies to dress up like characters from The Wizard Of Oz.
Funny, right? I don't think so. If the whole team was dressing up, sure, that'd be hysterical! But when you force rookies or younger players to be embarrassed or hurt, you tell kids, "It's okay to single out new players and make them do things they don't want to do." Those kids then do things like sodomize and injur their teammates. I won't apologize for reacting strongly whenever I see role models hazing one another: It leads to physical and psychological injuries in high school and college and it's not right.
I was the founding president of my fraternity (Theta Delta Chi) at Stanford, and I took hazing seriously then. It was an odd situation: We had a pledge class of 45 guys and only three active members. Still, I was so cognizant of hazing issues and always had at least one active member participate in all of our activities, and at least one member of the pledge class had to opt out of it. Plus, there were never any penalties for anyone who opted out and there was never any pressure on the newbies from the active members to participate. By making it optional with no repercussions, and having active members participate, we maintained the value of bonding without hazing.
Unfortunately, kids won't see what the Red Sox have done as voluntary or without repercussion. I already hated the Red Sox. Now I have reason No. 574.