The Stat Line of the Night – 8/9/10 – Bobby Abreu
9 Hazing Incidents That Didn’t Go Unnoticed
Over 80% percent of college athletes claim to have been hazed at some point. The extent to which they are hazed isn’t defined, but hazing has a pretty big scope and elicits different responses from different people. Some immediately draw a parallel to what is essentially team-sponsored torture, some think about the harmless pranks that take place on the pro level, and many fall somewhere in between.
While we obviously don’t condone sexually humiliating hazing or forcing someone to drink until they need their stomach pumped, below are a few instances of hazing that we find funny or surprising. Hopefully, none caused any lasting harm to the participants. With that disclaimer, let’s roll…
The Tim Tebow Haircut – 2010
Is it hazing if it’s harmless and funny (and long overdue)? In keeping with NFL tradition, rookies have some dues to pay during training camp. While it’s arbitrary, and technically hazing, it’s more likely to be of the practical joke and menial task variety than anything vicious.
Generally, this amounts to carrying a teammates gear to the locker room after practice, paying for dinners, and, on some teams, getting some cosmetic work done in the form of a new haircut.
Tim Tebow found this out late last week when his teammates decided, in light of his devout nature, he should be made to look like a Benedictine monk. A link to the gallery of Tebow’s new coif, and a few others, is located here.
No doubt, Tebow’s anointed status as “Mr. Good Character” was more than enough reason to bless him with a truly ridiculous haircut. Now here’s to hoping he takes the haircut as a cue to take a monk-like vow of silence for a month or so until the season starts.
Carolina Panthers – 2004
However twisted the practice of “innocent” hazing might seem, it certainly does speak about the rookies’ character. Especially if they can’t deal with the simple fun stuff that let’s them know they’re part of a club. The Carolina Panthers have a pretty standard tradition of making rookies carry vet’s pads and sing songs on demand.
On the last day of camp, the rookies are “asked” to step out in front of the entire club and sing, dance, and generally just act like a jackass at the veteran’s request. Then it’s done. Well, linebacker Sean Tufts didn’t think he had any more in him when this final test came around. In a hilariously not-tough demonstration, rather than face the music and swallow his pride with his fellow rookies, Tufts went…another route.
He hauled ass into the woods to hide. Which worked. For about 20 minutes. Football players may not be splitting atoms, but they’re not likely to forget about a rookie that runs and hides from his fate. Predictably, Tufts made it back to the locker room later to change. And his team was waiting for him.
To ensure that he wouldn’t run again, players taped him to a chair outdoors, drenched him with ice water and Gatorade, then left him outside to think about what he had done. Eventually, two fans came by to set the not-so-tough linebacker free. It doesn’t sound like Tuft’s dignity made it through the ordeal.
San Diego Chargers – 2009
Another well-known staple of the NFL initiation process is the purchase of dinners for other players. San Diego takes this practice a step further by “strongly suggesting” that the teams 1st round draft pick takes the entire team out to dinner. This pic shows what damage can be done by 50 or 60 NFL players who are probably eating out of spite.
As the above article states, Larry English could’ve had it a lot worse. Shawn Merriman’s bill for his rookie season was $32,000 bucks, which probably works out to about $500 per player. I’m still willing to bet their kicker just had a salad and an Evian.
However, there have been protests of this tradition. Everyone’s favorite benchmark for disappointment, Ryan Leaf, wasn’t a big fan of this obligation, so he decided not to spring for dinner. The players decided that he was going to pay one way or another, so they lifted his credit card and dropped $3,000 on dinner. Ryan got off light for that dinner, but as we all know, karma caught up with him and did more damage than any group of linemen ever could.
Sacramento Kings – 2008
NFL doesn’t have a monopoly on hazing. They might have a monopoly on good hazing ideas, though. It’s widespread policy not only in Sac-town, but all over the NBA for rookies to bring bagels and cream cheese to practice. Apparently, the NBA hazes like the PTA does. Whatever.
This lame hazing policy might be offset though, by the awesome revenge the players extract should a rookie consistently forget to nourish his teammates with the carb-loaded delights. You should really click this link to see how it goes down, but if you’re not feeling it, let me share: You get a shitton of popcorn dumped in your Escalade. If that’s not enough, then the video is worth it just to witness the fact that Spencer Hawes (!) has his car detailer on speed dial. In the NBA, it’s all about priorities.
Lest you think that only the jocks know how to haze their rookies, let’s discuss college marching bands for a minute. While they obviously aren’t sharing the nationally-televised glory that the athletes they support get, they are a close-knit group of very talented individuals. When that occurs, hazing is generally not far off.
A simple Google search for “Wisconsin Band Hazing” demonstrates that these kids seem to be hornier, drunker, and more aggressive than any fraternity or pro football team.
The entire band was not allowed to participate in a game against Ohio State in 2008 due to undisclosed hazing that involved, predictably, alcohol and sexual harassment (keep in mind the band is co-ed). While details on that particular event are sketchy, the Wisconsin band has certainly developed a history of lewd behavior. Here are a few examples over the years:
• A hazing incident in which a female band member was told to suck on a sex toy.
• Female band members being forced to kiss other female band members to gain access to bus bathrooms.
• Younger band members being forced to run errands and refill beer cups for older band members.
• Behavior in 2004 that led a bus driver to pull over and call the police.
I personally believe that a woman should be forced to kiss another woman to gain access to the bathroom at any time, but sharing these thoughts has gotten me in trouble before, so I’m just going to shut up and hope these Wisconsin kids stay on their best behavior.
Charlton County High School JV Golf Team – What? Yes.
While pro hazing is more a rite of passage than a real attempt to hurt or berate the players, it seems as though that hazing gets worse dependent on two different aspects: a) How young are the participants? The younger the people involved, the more spiteful the pranks seem to be; and b) How obscure is the sport? Football and baseball have their moments, but every time you hear about a hazing alcohol death or a rape allegation, it’s rugby or lacrosse or some men’s swimming team in Iowa.
This instance surely meets the “young participants and obscure sport” idea as a 13 year-old was wedgied into the hospital on a bus ride for the varsity and JV golf teams. To add injury to injury, the players held him upside down and punched the poor kid in the stomach and groin while he was being wedgied.
The biggest, unaddressed question here is what a 13 year-old was doing playing on a high school golf team. Poor guy never stood a chance. It appears that the older students who were complicit in this were charged with battery.
Major League Baseball – 2010
Baseball is perhaps the birthplace of the clubhouse pranks. I wonder why. Maybe due to the fact that games are so boring they can’t capture the attention of the PEOPLE PLAYING THEM! Anyway, at least the pranks make the sport a little more interesting, if only for a minute.
Given baseball’s lineage in practical jokes, it’s unsurprising that many clubs have some fun with their rookies. It seems that baseball has perhaps the most jovial and innocent hazing rituals. Consequently, they have some of the funniest because no one is getting hurt.
A prime example of this mischief would be this photo gallery which seems to consist of pictures taken during spring training 2010. Dressing up players as women could be construed as a little creepy, but these outfits are so ridiculous that it’s hard to take anything here too seriously.
Personal favorites: Asian baseball player as Teletubby, Asian baseball player in kimono and cowboy boots, Asian baseball player dressed (seemingly) as Christopher Columbus. Why do the Asian players get all the awesome costumes? Doesn’t seem fair to me.
Northwestern Women’s Soccer – 2006
Anyone who is familiar with sorority pledgeship knows that hazing is hardly unique to men. The girls can be just as cruel, though the activities seem to be more likely to involve psychological distress than physical distress. In 2006, the Northwestern Women’s soccer team was found to have distributed photos online of many team members in their underwear with marker all over their body as part of an initiation ritual.
The photos, strangely enough, were found on a server when an author was looking for more information on the Duke lacrosse rape case. Many of the girls in the pictures were (unsurprisingly) drinking. Some of the photos also showed the girls giving lap dances to men’s soccer players as punishment for shortcoming during practices.
Although this is hardly the ugliest case of hazing that has been seen recently, it does serve notice that hazing is no longer simply contained to men’s sports. Some pics of the hazing incident can be found here.
Baltimore Ravens – 2007
Here is a demonstration that, regardless of whether you think hazing is “good” or “bad”, it’s pretty stupid. It can be stupid mean when people get hurt, or it can be stupid funny based on a few of the examples above, but you can’t argue that we are dealing with some high-IQ strategies here.
Take for instance this video of the Baltimore Ravens at the end of training camp a few years ago. Pretty standard stuff with no real purpose other than maybe relieving the boredom that sets in at two-a-days for a month away from home. It almost seems more like a celebration than anything else. The hose scene is reminiscent of Billy Madison when Norm Macdonald is spraying a little kid with a hose for no real reason while the kid pleads, “Mister, why are you doing this? I don’t even know you!”.
When you’re actions are drawing comparisons to Billy Madison, they are probably both stupid and funny, so take them with a grain of salt.