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Is Hazing/Bullying an Issue for Pro Sports?

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Option #1: Outlaw Hazing

Outlawing hazing all together is one possible solution to the problem. Throw away the word “bullying” and throw away the word “hazing”. Call it assault or call it harassment instead. Make teams accountable and make it a legal issue.

These are grown adults and this is their workplace. If this isn’t workplace harassment I don’t know what is. Granting special exceptions to pro sports is absurd. Why should these professionals be forced to operate under a different set of rules than the rest of us?

If anything it’s even worse for pro athletes because most are under contract and cannot change companies (teams) like the rest of us can if we’re dissatisfied. Each player is at the mercy of what his team allows and doesn’t allow. Since everyone draws The Line of Appropriateness at different points, what seems acceptable to one person may actually upset and offend another person. Doing away with all forms of hazing would solve this problem. No grey area. Just black and white.

Sep 29, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas Rangers designated hitter A.J. Pierzynski (12) high fives catcher Geovany Soto (8) after they scored runs in the bottom of the fifth inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Option #2 Get Thicker Skin

These are grown adults. They can handle it. This is just part of the game. All this PC crap is ruining sports. It was never an issue before why is it a big deal now? Richie Incognito crossed the line and he should be punished. None of the other teams are having problems so why ruin it for everyone else?

They may sound like good points but there are holes in the logic. Just because one case becomes public doesn’t mean it’s the only time someone has crossed the line. Call it my Cockroach Theory but every time you see a case like this, it’s safe to assume there are 100 more cases happening behind the scenes.

Just because someone doesn’t report a problem doesn’t mean there isn’t a problem. It violates the culture of sports to complain about teammates, so it’s probable most players just deal with inappropriate (possibly torturous) situations.

Option #3 Set Reasonable Expectations

Since some forms of hazing are harmless and actually value-adding, why don’t we just set expectations? We can discuss what is reasonable and what is not. What behaviors are approved and what behaviors are forbidden. This way the tradition can continue and the benefits can be still be realized without a line being be crossed.

Nov 14, 2013; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Dallas Stars center Tyler Seguin (91) celebrates his goal with teammates against the Calgary Flames during the third period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Dallas Stars won 7-3. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Carrying shoulder pads to and from practice seems reasonable. Buying donuts for film sessions sounds good too. Verbal abuse can go too far too easily. Stop verbal harassment. Team dinners have gotten out of hand. Sticking a rookie with a $50k-70k dinner tab is unacceptable. That’s more than most Americans make in a year.

The idea of hazing is to build respect and camaraderie.

Embarrassing a rookie with a bad hair-cut (religion permitting), singing their college fight song, or firmly attaching him to the goal post in training camp, seems like good fun to me. but you may see it differently.  Before we get too PC on this, how about we just set reasonable expectations like this?

I welcome your thoughts on the issue…

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