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Hazingis a widespread practice in high schools, colleges, and variousorganizations, especially among sports teams, peer groups, streetgangs and theater clubs among others. Hazing is a common aspect inall levels of sports, and it is viewed as a process of initiationinto clubs, athletic teams, military academies, sororities, andfraternities. The hazing process of initiation in sports involvesreckless physical or mental harassment, humiliation and abuse. Themost common hazing activities include excessive consumption ofalcohol, acting as a personal servant to the teammates, consumingdisgusting food, prank phone calls, and walking naked among others(Woods, 2007). The main targets of this ritualistic ceremony are thefirst-year players. Shortly after they make it into the team, theyare subjected to a potentially intense ritual, the hazing rite ofpassage, which marks entrance and acceptance into a group. Thus, thegroups attains new members whom they feel will value that membershipthe most, by having had to “suffer” to attain it.

Inthe last several years, hazing in sports has received a increasingmedia coverage and attention, especially in high school and collegesnationwide. This attention was provoked by the increasing cases ofhazing, which included dangerous acts such as forced consumption ofmassive amounts of alcohol, physical abuse, and psychologicalproblems among others. However, these effects have long beenfrequently underestimated. In the recent years, multiple episodes ofillegal behavior abuse and horrific hazing activities in sports haveended in death, while physical and mental injuries have dramaticallyoccurred in high schools and campuses across the United States. Giventhe numerous cases involving sport hazing in the recent past, aroundforty three states today have passed legislation that prohibitshazing, making it illegal (Epstein, 2012). For this reason, if hazingactivities abuse, degrade and endanger participants, even when therecipient is willing to participate, they should be consideredinappropriate. Clearly, initiation practices in sports that threatenthe health or the well-being of an individual are harmful andunacceptable.

Statementof the problem

Sporthazing has attracted numerous researches on the impacts and benefitof the rite of passage. Some studies have established that the mainmotive behind hazing includes having fun, intimidating new members,carrying an initiation, dominance of power and jealousy (Delaney andMadigan, 2009). This occurs more often in competitive sports, wherehazing is believe to increase motivation, as well as, promotecooperation and unity among the team members. Ironically, it isevident that hazing may do more harm than good.

Hazingis currently considered a moral issue involved in contemporary sport.Controlling behaviors that take place during the initiationceremonies and eliminating dangerous hazing practices in high schoolsand colleges has become a significant challenge for the anti-hazingorganizations and school officials. Thus, in today’s society hazingis considered as a recipe for disaster and is simply no longeracceptable. This paper carries further research by analyzing hazingamong sports, and proceeds to what constitutes constructive anddestructive initiation rites. The research will also focus on themajor hazing incidence to establish the positive and negativeimpacts.



Hazinghas been practiced for ages and is recorded as part of history forcenturies. Its existence was first traced in the ancient and medievalschools in Greece, North African and Western Europe. However, thepractice came to the United States with the Europeans, where membersof the aristocracy practiced “fagging” in prep schools (Finley P.and Finley S., 2006). Finley defines fagging as the right older boyspracticed to coerce younger men to act as servants for their seniorcolleagues by making them do meaningless and degrading tasks. In theEuropean era, in the 1600s, hazing was referred to as pennalism.Pennalism was, therefore, a requirement for graduation from many ofthe schools, and was a one-time event for freshmen, who were seenunworthy, and were thus polished to attend university. However, thepennalism requirement was abolished in the 1700s because of theserious injuries and deaths caused by the practice. Nuwer (2006)points out that, in the year 1657, two students from Harvard Collegewere made to pay fines for their participation in hazing activities.In addition, Harvard went as far as expelling student for hazing in1684.

Inthe 1900s, another form of hazing, known as ‘fagging`, was againaccepted by students and school administrators. Fagging was exercisedto make new comers learn how to respect upperclassmen and the schoolorganization. In the beginning, fagging was harmless, but again astime progressed this practice became violent. Nuwer (2006)establishes that in 1905, The New York Times recorded the firsthazing incident that led to the dead of a high school student, whichreceived extensive coverage. Towards the end of the century, hazingincidents and deaths escalated leading to serious investigations andofficial condemnation. The hazing incidences had dramaticallyincreased in military schools, student organizations, marching band,Navy academy, high schools, ski clubs, sports club, freshman camp,theatre groups and spirit squads among others. In the efforts tofight off hazing practices, an organization such as the NationalInter-fraternity Conference was formed in 1910. Nonetheless, hazingremained widespread, underreported and increasingly hazardous.

Theprevalence of hazing

Hazingaccidents and incidents have grown dramatically within the past 30years. Hazing has been pervasive in interscholastic and mostly, nogroup in high school is completely free from these practices. Theresearch finding of a national survey of 1,541 school juniors andseniors indicated that, of the athletes that responded, 35% reportedbeing subjected to some form of hazing (Goldstein,2003). In addition Goldsteinadds that 45% of these athletes were subjected to humiliation, 22%involved in substance abuse, while 22% were subjected to dangeroushazing. Further analysis of this data suggested that more than800,000 high school athletes are hazed every year. This survey hasbeen strongly supported by other findings, with recent cases fromhigh school incidents indicating the seriousness of athletic hazingin this millennium.

Thereis a gender difference in hazing, with boys being ranking highest inengaging in dangerous activities. It has been observed boys are moreinvolved dangerous forms of hazing behaviors in a very high levelthan girls. A survey by Alfred University that the number of boysthat suffered humiliation was 48%, 27% took part in dangerous hazing,while 24% engaged in substance abuse (Haley et al., 2010). This wascompared to the finding of the number of girls involved, whereby 39%suffered humiliation, 18% were involved in substance abuse, while 17%participated in dangerous hazing (Haley et al., 2010). This studysuggests that girls are less likely involved in physical activities,but are more likely to participate in psychological and emotionalputdowns and demeaning practices.

Increasingly,students are being charged with criminal charges for hazing. Frommost of the recent cases, some hazers are required to pay fines thatrange from $10 to $80,000, jail time ranging from 10 days to 12months, a combination of jail time and fines, while others areexpelled from school or the sports team. Victims have the right tofile a law suit against their coaches, teammates, or the school theyattend. In 1999, a hockey player, Corey LaTulippe, who was hazed,brought charges against the University of Vermont. This is because hewas made to suffer humiliation, sexual assault and was made to paradein women’s underwear. According to Castaldi and Hoerner (2003), theU.S District Court in Vermont ordered the University to pay Corey$80,000, while two members of the team were charge with the crime ofproviding beer to a minor. Castaldi and Hoerner add that the twostudents, who were team captains, received a fine of $517.50 and a 30day suspended sentence.

Similarconducts have been alleged all over the United States, in whichvictims end up dead and other end in lawsuits. According to Woods(2007), a baseball player in Ranch Bernado High School was paid bythe California School district $675,000 after being sodomized with abroom handle in the locker room after a game. Woods recounts asimilar case that is even more shocking, which took place in NewMexico in 2008, whereby high school football players were accusedsodomizing six freshmen with a broom stick during a training camp.The worse part of it is that the coaches turned a blind eye to thehazing. These cases have led to the resignation of the coaches andtheir assistance. Despite compensation, these practice is moreheinous because victims end up diagnosed with attention deficitdisorder, post traumatic stress disorder, and hyperactivityconditions.


Hazingis a process based on tradition used by groups to maintain disciplineor a hierarchy. In most cases, hazing is mistakenly confused withpranks, especially college pranks that involve hoaxes and are rarelyhurtful. Pranks are, however, acceptable, as they may include publicevents such as publishing bogus rival college newspapers, andpainting a notable statue among others. Conversely, hazing consistsof foolish pranks, which too often result to serious injuries to theinitiate. Unlike pranks, hazing can be degrading, humiliating,exhausting, intimidating and demeaning. This results to significantphysical and emotional discomfort leading to mental problems,distress, hospitalization and post traumatic stress disorder amongothers. As a result, hazing has become more dangerous, aggressive andmore sexualized since the 1990s.

Consentis an important aspect of hazing. In most cases, groups claim thatthere is no coercion and that the individual willingly participate inthe activities. However, the definition of hazing as used in statelaws does not hold the victim liable for participation. As stated bythe law, the court only acknowledges the physical and psychologicalpressure that is exerted by the group that hazes. Victims who try toresist or try to resist experience more pain and suffer theconsequences. Furthermore, the inception of the educational act TitleIX of 1972 is known to increase female participation in sports, sinceit offers male and female students equal participation in sports(Goldstein,2003).In the eyes of many, this act has contributed the increased hazingamong female students in the past years.

Oneof the reasons why hazing remains underreported and increasinglyhazardous is because the groups that hazes emphasizes the secretnature of their rite of passage. Old members coerce new to take anoath and pledge that they must never reveal traditions. According toDelaney (2008), the secret nature of hazing serves as a bondingexperience among participants. This has reduced the likelihood thatreports of hazing have been given to authorities, as it is oftenreferred to as the code of silence. For instance, some of the wellknown dangerous hazing rituals are confinement in car trunks orbasement, sodomizing, simulation oral sex, servitude and brandingamong others.

Hazingcan have detrimental effects or non-detrimental towards theperformance of the team, and on the well-being of the victim. Thisfoolish activity has resulted to long term effects for its victimsincluding injuries, stress, psychological effects. Moreover, studentssubjected to hazing are known to have behavioral problems such aspoor performances in school, getting into fights with friends,fighting with parents, hurting others, having difficulties sleepingand eating, isolation, and feeling guilty, angry and confused.Epstein (2012) also adds that hazing incidents affect the coachestoo, as they have led to the resignation of coaches andadministrators, even when they are not directly part of the incidentsof have knowledge of the existence of the actions.

Eradicatehazing in sports requires effective strategies, which should bedeveloped to combat physical violence and servitude in athleticteams. Hazing education is one of the ways used by organizations andlearning institutions to eliminate hazing activities. Althoughstudents hate hazing programs, many organizations and institutionsorganize meeting where students are expected to speak out and areeducated on the effects of violent activities in sports. Many studieshave highlighted the importance of hazing education as it is observedthat players finally understand the seriousness of the issue. Collegeadministrators, presidents, and athletic leaders in higher educationshould come together to eradicate hazing. They should adopt measuressuch as immediate expulsion from the team for students found guiltyof physical hazing, as well as, implement no-tolerance policies forhazing activities (Jackson and Terrell, 2007). Currently, manynational fraternities and sororities have adopted restrictions andprohibition on raving activities of local chapters. Similarly, manycolleges and universities have explicit prohibition of these illegalactivities.


Hazingis a societal problem with varying degree of severity. Severaltheories have been used to explain why hazing occurs. These theoriessuggest that hazing is used as a tool of solidarity through sharedsecrecy, while others perceive it as an exercise of control,dominance and power. On the other hand, hazing exists becauseparticipants are not given other viable options for acceptance into agroup. Nonetheless, sports hazing continue to persist because manypeople find no problem with it. Athletes defend hazing as theyconsidered it as an integral part for team building, and overlook itsadverse consequences. For this reason, the general public, educators,organizations and activists should combine effort to eradicate thisharmful tradition among athletes. More so, athletes should learn andadopt safe and better ways of accepting new members, and creatingunity among teammates in a group.


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