Hazing and the college athlete

Hazing is a topic that often is not discussed among many people because no one is sure how to talk about the subject. There have been many document cases of hazing both at the high school and college level. There have been some glaring cases of hazing at several marquee college programs throughout the country in the last several years some resulting in the death of freshman athletes and many resulting in lawsuits and suspensions of team-members and athletic programs.

Hazing defined by Webster’s Dictionary means: To irritate, annoy, to punish or harass by forcing to do hard, unnecessary work. To initiate or discipline fellow students by forcing to do ridiculous, humiliating, or painful things.

There can be various degrees of hazing such as making players dress up in funny cloths or go on strange scavenger hunts or making them get funny haircuts. The more dangerous forms of hazing involve making student-athletes drink excessive amounts of beer and/or liquor in a series of games or challenges or making student-athletes do lewd things with their bodies or the bodies of others. Some can involve the consumption of strange food or things that were not meant to be food at all (goldfish in some cases)

A recent report by Hank Nuwer of Alfred University (NY) indicates that over 80% of college athletes admitted to being hazed at some point in their initiation process, involving drinking alcohol as well as things involved with nudity and sexual exploitation.

Hazing isn’t reserved for fraternities or sororities or big Division 1 schools, it happens at every level of college both in the Greek system as well as the athletic system.

The Massachusetts institute of Technology where one could argue has the smartest college students in the entire country if not the world, made headlines when a freshman fraternity pledge was found dead in his dorm room as a result of alcohol poisoning in September of 1997, a few short weeks after he started school. Like many other hazing incidents, the pledges were asked to consume dangerous amounts of beer and liquor in a short amount of time. The student ultimately lost consciousness, began to vomit, which led to him choke and he ultimately went into a coma and was pronounced dead shortly thereafter. When medical personnel first reached the student that night, his blood alcohol content was .401 or 5 times the legal limit in the state of Massachusetts. The death resulted in the members of the fraternity being charged criminally, and a civil lawsuit against the university, which was later settled. In this case, even the smartest kids in the world were capable of one of the dumbest acts you could see.

Three reasons why hazing still exists.

  1. The upper-class students organizing the hazing were hazed themselves, so this is their payback (what goes around comes around) and they feel almost like they have the right to do this because “it was done to me”.
  1. The willingness of underclassmen to participate in these hazing rituals. While no one wants to be made to eat strange food, run around naked or consume large amounts of beer and liquor, the fear and resentment of not participating is sometimes worse and lasts longer than the actual hazing acts themselves, so they accept it and hope it ends soon.
  1. No one wants to do anything unless someone dies and they (both the participants and the organizers) assume waking up the next day with a hangover or no hair is “OK” and “good fun.”

Everyone reacts different to hazing, some student-athletes participating think its fun, some don’t care and others have traumatic experiences that result in depression, dropping out of school, and sometimes death.


Things you may not expect

Expectations at the college level for high school athletes

Tips on succeeding as a college athlete

The transition from high school to college athletics can be a challenging one. There will be more demands of your time, more coaches demanding more from you, and better players to compete with and against. Your ability to remain patient and balance your time with sports, with school, and socially will be the key to succeeding as a college athlete. While you may have been a star on your high school team just a few months ago, you are now an 18 year old freshman competing against 21 and 22 year old juniors and seniors who have been playing college athletics for several years now. Work hard, be humble, be patient and find a way to succeed in school and on the athletic field.

  • Don’t expect to be the top player when you show up. Not every player from high school goes on to play college athletics and not only will you be competing against the best freshman from around the country but you will be competing against athletes that have already played in college for 1, 2 and 3 years.
  • Don’t’ expect the coach to be your best friend when tryouts or the season start. The coach could have 50 or 60 players to deal with in a few short days and even though you may have got along great in their office 5 months ago when you met with them, there may be times when you wonder if the coach remembers your name!
  • Don’t be surprised if you show up to tryout for left field and when the coach goes “ok all left fielders go to your position” 12 players run out there. The coach will not usually recruit just one player. There may be players there that the coach didn’t know would be there, such as players who are trying to walk on and didn’t talk to the coach beforehand.
  • Don’t expect to have holidays and vacations off. Many teams play in Thanksgiving tournaments or Christmas tournaments or take a trip during spring break. You might not have a game on Christmas day but you may have a game one or two days before or after making it impossible to fly home for the week to see your family. This becomes more challenging when you attend a school 2,000 miles away from your home. The price you pay for a free education.
  • In the winter, especially at schools where it is cold and/or it snows, you may be practicing at very odd hours of the day. Usually the athletic facilities at a particular school are limited and if the school has a choice of making a facility available to 4,000 students or 25 soccer players, they usually will go with the 4,000 students. This means you may have to practice whenever there is time and whenever there is space and that may mean at 6am before the facility is open to the general student body or at 11pm when the facility is closed to the general student body.
  • Expect to miss some classes because of games and expect professors to hold you accountable for any work you missed.
  • Expect weeks when you have too many games and too many tests and papers. There will be days when you have a road game that does not get back till 11pm and you may have 2 tests and a paper due the next day. First of all, you should have known about this work and the game ahead of time and you should have started your work early so you are not up all night. Second of all, don’t even think of studying on the bus, I have seen many try and it doesn’t work!
  • Don’t expect to play just because your team is getting blown out on a particular day. Coaches don’t like to get blown out, but they also don’t like players to think that they will play if the team does poorly because it can create a negative attitude. Some coaches like to leave players in that are doing poorly to remind them that they are doing poorly and embarrass them enough so they try harder next time. Taking someone out of the game is letting them off easy.
  • Don’t expect to always dress or travel with the team. The bus and bench has only so many seats and sometimes the coach will keep more players on the team for development and practice reasons but will not be able to dress or travel with everyone. This should not be a big deal, because this is better than not playing at all and having to try out again next year.


Life As a College Athlete

Succeeding as a College Athlete

Learn why some college athletes fail when they arrive at school

Playing college athletics can be a tremendous thrill and opportunity. You get to travel to different parts of the country, play with and against the best players in the country, and play in amazing venues often in front of large crowds. A few lucky one’s will even play on TV. It also offers you the opportunity to make life-long friendships with your teammates who you will spend a great deal of time with over the course of four years. Playing college athletics also requires time-balancing and some sacrifice on your part. You may practice very early in the day or very late at night and games and travel will cut into classes and study time and other aspects of your college experience. The most successful college athletes learn to balance sports, academics and their free time to succeed. One of the best parts of being a college athlete comes after graduation when many companies seek out college athletes for job opportunities. Why? Because those companies know the sacrifices that many college athletes made to compete at their sport and know those graduates have learned to balance their time and work with other teammates of varying backgrounds towards a common goal.


While college athletics can be a great experience, it comes with many challenges. GO


College athletics can be a difficult adjustment from high school to college and one filled with many twists and turns along the way. GO


Hazing is a practice that is conducted in many forms at many levels, yet it is often something people are afraid to talk about or address. GO