Fittest loser
Article updated: 11/29/2012 11:51 PM

Let's be clear: There's no room for hazing in high school sports

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Hazing is portrayed in a somewhat humorous light in "Animal House" and "Revenge of the Nerds."

But those are movies about college life. The portrayals are not entirely fiction but they also offer little reality to just how demeaning and degrading hazing can be at any age.

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Particularly for high school students and athletes. The actions of a few individuals can also be very damaging to a school as is the case with the alleged hazing this fall in the Maine West boys soccer program.

This wouldn't be the first time it's happened in high schools across the country. Unfortunately, it probably wouldn't be the last.

But if there is a lesson from this situation it's that every school had better make it perfectly clear this type of misbehavior won't be tolerated. Starting with superintendents, to principals, to athletic directors, to coaches, and ultimately to athletes, that there is no rational explanation for hazing others.

What is gained from hazing, anyway, since in the most cases it's someone older doing this to someone younger? Particularly in a high school team setting where the age difference can seem much greater between freshmen and seniors.

It certainly doesn't provide any team-building qualities. How does terrorizing someone else make a team better?

It doesn't build character. It doesn't show any signs of leadership. Any sense of superiority would be a false one.

What does happen with hazing is it continues through a mentality of, "now it's my turn since the same thing happened to me." And it can get worse and completely out of hand as the years pass and the zeal for some type of even greater vengeance increases.

So, steps need to be taken immediately to ensure hazing in high school athletics decreases. It may require adult supervision in locker rooms and at all practice activities.

Hazing definitely requires continued education for everyone to understand just how destructive it can be. Any coach who is found to condone it or encourage it shouldn't be coaching again.

Yes, hazing might look or seem funny in the movies.

But we're people and not animals. And these are high schools and not comedies about frat houses.

Marty Maciaszek is a freelance columnist for the Daily Herald who can be reached at marty.maciaszek@gmail.com

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