Ranking the Locker Room Chemistry: Hazing in DFW


Jul 21, 2013; Oxnard, CA, USA; Dallas Cowboys locker room exhibit highlighting Super Bowl victories at training camp at the River Ridge Fields. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Sport DFW Mailbag:

"Do you actually think hazing is a problem on all (professional) teams? I think it’s probably only a few teams that have the issue. Do you think it’s on any of our teams? Which Dallas team is the best locker room? – Sara"

I received this question last week referring to the article, Is Hazing/Bullying an Issue in Pro Sports. The first question asks if it’s a problem on all professional teams. The answer really depends on what constitutes a “problem”. Is mild hazing a problem? If you think so then I believe hazing IS taking place on 90% of professional teams. It’s engrained deep in the culture of sport and in most cases it’s completely harmless.

Nov 20, 2013; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki (41) celebrates a basket and fouled with guard Shane Larkin (3) against the Houston Rockets in the second quarter at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Like I said in the original article, without standards and expectations we can never really expect appropriate behavior by all. And athletes/coaches won’t always know when they are the ones crossing the line. Locker rooms operate outside of reality and often times need oversight and rules. Until we demand this, lines will be crossed regularly. Keep in mind- most athletes just endure hazing/bullying even if it crosses a line. It’s against the “code” to complain publically. So just because you don’t hear about it doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.

Locally I believe we have some very strong locker rooms. Football is always going to be the most difficult to control given the roster size and the general temperance/aggression level of NFL players. But even with Will Allen’s comments concerning the Cowboys organization, I believe the team is led by a solid core and there isn’t a huge issue as long as Witten, Ware, and Lee reside inside.

The Dallas Mavericks are usually a sure bet to be friendly and mature, but in recent years the roster has seen a steady turnover. It seems all is well and the veteran leaders are creating a great environment but with so many new faces it’s difficult to tell if it will remain strong. Any possible hazing on the Mavs is probably pretty limited and with the rookie class and the fun/established veterans, you can bet a little something is going on.

Hazing is in hockey too. This is also a very “alpha” culture and you will probably never hear any complaining. The Stars, like the Mavs, have a rebuilt roster so little is truly known at this point.

Sep 17, 2013; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington (38) laughs in the dugout during the first inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Texas Rangers probably have the tightest locker room of all DFW teams. Even with the departure (or possible departure) of leaders Ian Kinsler, David Murphy, and Nelson Cruz, the positive nature of the locker room is intact. Credit Ron Washington for that.

If I had to rank the locker rooms I’d say:

  1. Texas Rangers
  2. Dallas Mavericks
  3. Dallas Stars
  4. Dallas Cowboys

All in all I don’t think the DFW pro sports franchises have any problems with hazing/bullying or general locker room chemistry. The purpose of the article was to recognize it exists, to some point, everywhere. Even more so, to urge leagues to set expectations of tolerable behavior in those locker rooms. The idea is to be proactive rather than reactive.

Do you have questions or comments regarding Dallas area sports? Email Reid at permaximum@hotmail.com. You may be included in the next weekly mailbag. Follow Reid on twitter @ReidDHanson