Major League Baseball has finally caught up with the rest of the world and banned hazing rituals and the players are MAD.
If you are unfamiliar with the rituals of major league baseball, here is a brief breakdown. Every year when the rookies and minor league players get called up to the bigs to fulfill their lifelong dream of playing with the best, they have to undergo a bit of rough treatment. Some of the players say it is harmless fun. Some call it team building. Others call it hazing.
The hazing usually involves the new players dressing up in skimpy clothes while flying or somewhere in public. The outfits have been that of Hooters girls, Wonder Woman, mascots, Disney princesses, cheerleaders, and many other costumes. All of the costumes mentioned are costumes that are meant to embarrass the new players, to make them look different than the rest of the team.
The MLB has imposed its new hazing rules at a time of changing attitudes towards hazing in our society. As social media has become more popular, the practice of hazing new players has been seen more publicly. More people know of it, see it, and can react to it. Combine that with their lower attendance levels at MLB games and you can see where the changes have stemmed from.
The new rules resemble what other associations have already implemented such as college sports teams that have had anti hazing bans in place for some time now. The rule change permits some forms of “hazing” like making rookies get coffee in uniform before games or bringing players snacks during the game, etc. But, it bans making them dress up as anything that may be considered degrading. It also bans making players ingest anything they don’t want to. The new rule states “A player’s actual or perceived willingness to participate in prohibited conduct does not excuse the activity from being considered a violation of the policy.”
Current and former players alike have come out with mixed feelings on the new rule change. Many are fervently opposed saying they enjoyed the old rituals and it made them feel like part of the team. It made them feel like they had made it. They don’t see the rough conduct as hazing or harmful. Many other players and fans alike are in favor the new rule.
The players who are against it and saying it is not hazing might just need a refresher on why it’s going in place and what hazing actually is.
Hazing is defined as “the practice of playing unpleasant tricks on someone or forcing someone to do unpleasant things” The players are initiating the new players with activities meant to humiliate and embarrass them.
Another reason for the new rule is the attendance at baseball games. Attendance has been shrinking significantly in the past decade. More people are willing to stay at home, avoid the high entrance cost, which, though less than some other sporting events, is still a steep fee. They can enjoy the game with the whole family, have an affordable meal, get play by play action, catch replays, and change the channels in between innings, all from the comfort of their sofa. It’s getting harder and harder for the MLB to get fans to the stadiums and offending people isn’t going to help.
You might say “But, it’s not meant to be offensive!” Some might say otherwise. But imagine why it can be taken that way. The goal is to embarrass the rookies. Their way of doing that is dressing them up like a woman. Ultimately saying “it should be embarrassing for you to dress like this.” Well, what happens if players did want to dress like that, or the fans who do choose to dress like that.
As mentioned in a previous story, younger people are wearing the clothing of their choice, not the clothing of their gender. So, by telling them it’s embarrassing to want to wear those clothes you’re alienating them; you’re offending them; you’re laughing at them.
Another issue the new hazing rule helps curb is bringing young athletes up with the notion that hazing is ok because “that’s what the pros do.” Right now the hazing rituals create a culture that is harmful to kids. The pros might be able to handle it, they may even enjoy it, but the small kid on the high school team who gets bullied in school might not. The girl who wants to play baseball but sees the pros making fun of the women’s teams by wearing their uniforms as jokes probably doesn’t.
What do you think: Is this ban a long time coming or are the players just having some simple fun with the rookies?