Note to Parents: You don’t get to decide what’s considered hazing at your kid’s school and what’s not.
Same goes for coaches and the athletes themselves. Just because YOU don’t think it’s hazing, doesn’t absolve you of wrongdoing. In this case, the mother of a wrestler at Bridgewater-Raynham High in Massachusetts, Pamela Pace, who told The Brockton Enterprise that her son, Stephen Pace should not have been suspended for the incident (hitting teammates with brooms and towels if they lost a match) that wasn’t hazing because “no one was hurt.”
Unfortunately, Mrs. Pace, under Massachusetts state law, hazing is considered “any conduct or method of initiation into any student organization, whether on public or private property, which willfully or recklessly endangers the physical or mental health of any student or other person.” Someone doesn’t need to suffer a broken arm or rectal bleeding for it to be hazing.
Now, you may disagree with that law and the definition, but that doesn’t change it or allow you to ignore it. It’s also possible that the BRH hazing policy is even stronger. (BadJocks was unable to obtain a copy.) But don’t feel bad Mrs. Pace, you’re not the first one to try and interpret hazing laws or policies to fit your personal vision (which usually involve men in hooded robes using paddles on young men in their underwear): several major universities have either ignored or re-interpreted their hazing policies after an incident.
One we can recall had members of the freshmen members of the baseball team singling naked in a bar. The school launched a special investigation with a special counsel who, after an lengthy process, decided it wasn’t hazing because the young men involved had agreed to participate. This, despite the fact that the school’s own anti-hazing policy said that agreeing to participate was not a defense. When pressed for documents related to the investigation via a FOIA request, we were told none existed. No transcripts of testimony from the victims, no final report in writing to the president of the university. Nothing. Just a verbal “It wasn’t hazing ’cause we say so.”
Hazing can also go unnoticed when held under the guise of a school “tradition” or a “team building exercise.” Case in point: the boys hockey team at Howell High School, not far from the BadJocks Bunker here in Michigan. Until recently coach Randy Montrose was considered the face of HHS hockey. That is, until pictures surfaced from a tournament in Marquette, Michigan where the new members of the team were doing a runway show in a bar wearing women’s underwear. (Coach Montrose claims it was women’s swimsuits, but does that really make a big difference?) Apparently this “team building” exercise had been going on for years under Coach Montrose who saw it as more of a “rite of passage” than hazing.
Except it violated the Howell School District’s anti-hazing policy. Which coach Montrose should be familiar with and should have shared with his players. But, in his opinion, it wasn’t hazing. Hazing is evil, mean and cruel and done by drunken frat boys, not high school hockey players, right? Unfortunately Coach, like Mrs. Pace, your personal opinion on what is or isn’t hazing does not count here. The school district agreed and now Coach Montrose is no longer associated with the school. Interestingly, at least one suspended player on the hockey team thinks they’re being singled out because, “Other things have happened around the school with other sports.” Hey, Howell High School: you may have a bigger hazing issue on your hands than you think.
And, while we’re on the subject of high school sports hazing, there is one other report of a incident involving the football team from Cooperstown High School (New York) last fall. I’ll let the father of one of the victims describe what happened:
“My son was tackled first, held down by two kids and one dropped his pants and put his butt in his face along with his genitals and stuff. They all had a pretty good laugh about it.”
Likely this will be deemed “horse play” or “rough housing that got out of hand.” Those are also classic excuses!
No hazing going on here folks. Move along.