An explosive story from Yahoo Sports today alleges that as many as eight Texas Rangers prospects pinned down an underage teammate and masturbated him against his will.
According to the story, Dominican Republic authorities plan to charge four of the young men and are looking at more charges. One of the alleged perpetrators is Rougned Odor, brother of the Rangers second baseman with the same name. The age of consent in the Dominican Republic is 18.
The episode was apparently posted on SnapChat, and a video of the incident has been seen by Yahoo Sports. According to the report, there are other alleged incidents being looked into by Major League Baseball. Our thoughts are with the victims.
If the allegations are true, and the men are convicted or Major League Baseball is convinced they are guilty, their careers are likely over before they started. Baseball is an unforgiving slog for players entering Minor League Baseball. What you don’t want to have on your resume is a conviction for sexual assault.
Of course, so much of our conversation about sexual assault revolves around a man assaulting or raping a woman. Incidents like this one in the Dominican Republic are labeled “hazing.” It’s “boys being boys,” because boys pin down one another, grab their penises and perform sexual acts on them.
Early headlines about the incident calling this “hazing” scares me for that very reason. Hopefully this is treated by the media as a sexual assault case that should inform our conversations about hazing and doesn’t get dismissed in the court of public opinion as “boys being boys.”
All forms of hazing, even those championed by commentators on ESPN and other media outlets, should be stopped immediately at all levels of sport. All of it — every last bit — leads to this.