Hazing is the stupidest thing that any group can ever do for incoming members, and anyone in a seniority position that continues with these arcane traditions is an idiot. If you’ve ever been hazed, you know it sucks, so don’t do it to someone else when you are in a position of power. I was reminded of this asinine tradition that some groups allow because of a developing story with the NFL team, the Miami Dolphins.
Before I talk about the man in the middle of the incident in Miami, I’ll share two experiences I’ve had with hazing. In high school, I was fortunate enough to make it onto the varsity team in cross country as a freshman. Unfortunately, I was the smallest and youngest one on the varsity team, so I was what they called “an easy target.” One senior runner thought it would be hilarious to stick me, the little freshman, in a locker. He recruited another senior and together they picked me up and tried to force me inside one. I resisted. They didn’t appreciate me fighting back so they turned me upside down and stuffed me into the locker, and then locked the door. I was stuck in a locker for 15 minutes, upside down, with my head pounding from all the pressure of my bodyweight pressing on it. Thankfully, another freshman came down to the locker room and got me out after the seniors left. I’ll never forget the main culprit, and I will hate him to the day I die.
A year later, as a sophomore, I made it onto the varsity baseball team. Once again, I was the smallest and youngest kid on the team. On a bus ride back from a game that we just won, I was invited to sit towards the back of the bus with some older teammates. I always sat near the front because I was scared of the bigger kids. I thought I was invited back because I had a great game. I was wrong. I accepted the invitation, but once I got back there, all they did was beat me to a pulp, hitting me repeatedly on my shoulders and legs before I was able to wiggle free and return to the front of the bus.
In both instances, I never told anyone. I don’t think I’ve even mentioned it to anyone ever until now. It’s a terrible position for a young member of any group to be in. For some reason, I felt as if I did something wrong, like I shouldn’t be trying hard because I’m taking an older player’s spot. Later on, I realized I shouldn’t have blamed myself, and that I was the subject of physical and psychological abuse.
The position you are put in if you get hazed is complicated. If you run and tell, you look weak, not to mention the wrath you could incur if the coaches or group leaders don’t believe you. If you don’t tell, the hazing continues.
Looking back, I wish I had told my coach. It takes a lot of courage to stand up to the bullies, and it wasn’t something I had a lot of since I was new to the group. The only thing I ever did to try and stop any hazing was to make sure it didn’t happen when I was a senior on my cross country team. As the captain of the cross country team, I made sure I was extremely kind to the incoming freshman. I actually mentored one of the freshman runners, which was much more rewarding than physically harming him or teasing him.
Let’s look at the current situation with the Miami Dolphins. Jonathan Martin, a second year player, walked away from his team because of repeated hazing by Richie Incognito. The Dolphins weren’t helping Martin deal with the situation, so Martin quit the team. If the reports are true, Richie Incognito did some terrible things. Here’s the story. Incognito has been suspended indefinitely by the Miami Dolphins because he was “hazing” his teammate Jonathan Martin. According to several reports, Incognito called his biracial teammate a “half-nigger,” bullied Martin into paying a $15,000 bill, and threatened to defecate in his mouth. The worst part of all of this is it’s only coming to light because Martin quit the team. If Martin would have just accepted this as how things are on an organized team, no one would know, and the hazing would continue.
Good for Martin, and good for all the reporters that helped bring this issue to light. I know what it feels like to be on the receiving end of “hazing.” Hazing to me is just a lame excuse for allowing a person in power to show the world how much of a total ass they really are. The Miami Dolphins organization are just as much to blame for accepting these behaviors as part of the sports culture.
Degrading someone, or simply being mean to someone because that’s what someone else did you is a pathetic excuse for inexcusable behavior. Just because that’s how it’s always been DOESN’T MAKE IT RIGHT. Now bring it in for a group hug.