A recent google search for “hazing” in the news turned up 128,000 hits this morning. I’ve been asked a few times about hazing and it’s impact: Is it happening more now than ever? Is there a difference between physically, mentally and emotionally abusive hazing? What can coaches and organizations do about the problem? It’s got me thinking about the subject and doing a little research.
From my own experience, as a freshman in college back in the early ’90s I was hazed. Both as a member of the soccer team and a fraternity. And I also doled it out as an upperclassman. I suspect I am like millions of people for whom hazing did not have much of a lasting negative effect. So little effect that I never really considered that I was “hazed” until I started writing this article. However, it is safe to say that there are countless others for whom hazing has had a seriously negative impact.
My situation is not unique. In one study, 47% of high school athletes reported being hazed, but only 8% identified the behaviors as “hazing.” While hazing did not have a negative impact on me, it definitely has the propensity to get out of control and have severe negative effects, such as emotional trauma, physical injury and in rare cases, death. As athletic directors, coaches, and parents, we need to make sure that this doesn’t happen.
Before we discuss how to stop the overblown types of hazing and it’s negative effects, and replace with positive team building rituals, we have to understand why it happens in the first place. What is hazing? Why is hazing even a thing in the first place? What do athletes get out of it? What need is […]