Hazing on, off playing field

Lily Choi | The Oswegonian
Lily Choi | The Oswegonian

There are many reasons people participate in clubs or sports teams. Some do it for the sake of meeting new people and exploring a new activity, while others do it as a résume builder. Regardless of the reason, the main objective of participating is to have fun while learning. However, the concept of hazing is always on the back burner when joining any group.

In simplest terms, there are three outcomes when hazing is involved. It will be addressed right away, it will take some time for the situation to become more public or it may never be revealed to outsiders at all, the latter being very unlikely. The communities that pride themselves on certain clubs or sports sometimes are in denial about such allegations, and that is a problem.

Central Bucks High School in Pennsylvania suspended its football team’s season after reports of hazing. Now, I’m all for the freshmen players carrying all of the extra water bottles or racking all the weights in the weight room, but the things that occurred at Central Bucks were more than that. One instance was when a rookie player had to “grab another player’s genitals through his clothes while other players watched.” The suspension was announced one day before the homecoming game.

Sayreville War Memorial High School in New Jersey faced hazing allegations when older players pinned down freshmen and kicked them in the locker room before practices in early September. The season was eventually cancelled after the third game.

Incidents like this make me think of two extremes: The Miami Dolphins bullying incident and the Duke Lacrosse case. We want those involved to be punished in an appropriate manner, but the media and the people cannot be quick to judge without a thorough investigation.

The concept of hazing by both teams seemed to shock their respective communities. Both teams have state and/or sectional titles and previous years of success. Even at the Pop Warner level, where children ages five through 16 play, coaches led players toward the varsity path. Whenever a player made a mistake, the Pop Warner coach would tell them the varsity coaches would not like that. That being said, there are no winners once this clears up.

For both cases, the community will start to feel a divide because some will believe the freshmen “snitched” on the upper classmen and should have just dealt with it, while other members will say this suspension is justified. In addition to the community feeling torn, the remaining players will be under pressure, too. Players know what they did or did not do, but it will hopefully be sorted out in a court of law. What about younger players who are in Pop Warner and have nothing to do with this? Do they still want to play once the suspension is lifted? All we know is that it’s going to be a long time before both issues are investigated.