Of course, there are many other ways that teams can get on the same page, usually involving having the older players tease the newcomers in some way, shape or form.
In the pro and college ranks, it can mean carrying luggage or singing college fight songs, or having the coaches develop elaborate pranks that appear, at first, to be serious trouble, but end up in serious laughter.
Somewhere, though, the line between “very funny” and “very dangerous” can get crossed. And that includes subjecting any young, impressionable kid to a ritual that involves physical danger, whether alcohol is the culprit or it’s something else.
The result of this hazing can range from complete humiliation to consequences that are far worse, such as the drum major for the famed Florida A&M band that was beaten up during a hazing ritual on a bus outside a hotel room and later died of his injuries, sidelining the band for two years.
And it’s even a concern right here, in our communities. Look at Baker High School in Baldwinsville, which sidelined its boys cross country team right before its annual invitational meet over hazing questions, putting the entire season in jeopardy.
No matter the group, it’s simple - hazing should be as unacceptable as racism or sexism or any other kind of discrimination. The price to pay for voluntarily joining a group, and feeling like one truly belongs to that group, should not be exposure to sick and demented rituals where peer pressure can prove stifling.
And one shouldn’t wait for college to learn those lessons. Maybe the best thing, for high school students that belong to any important group, is to have teachers and coaches outline, in stark and clear detail, that there’s zero tolerance for hazing.
Perhaps some of those kids will tune it out and pay for it later. Some of them won’t even need the reminder, for they are true leaders and know how to act toward others, in public and private settings.
But if those caught in between, and unsure of how to proceed, can listen to a trusted adult tell them, beforehand, that hazing is wrong, they can pick up the right lessons, and ultimately benefit far more than themselves.
At Cornell, lacrosse players got caught imparting the wrong lessons about team spirit and camaraderie. Perhaps the only good that comes out of it is that we look upon it with total scorn, and never encourage such practices among the groups we form.