Misguided and Criminal “Tradition”: the Anti-Hazing Act of 2018 and Varsity Sports

by: Mickey Ingles

Anyone who’s been involved in sports teams, especially university teams, can attest that rookies have to go through some rite of passage before full acceptance to the team. These initiation rites, passed off as “tradition”, can range from silly to downright abusive.

Question is, do these initiation rites violate the law?

Short answer: yes, when they cross the line to illegal hazing.

The Anti-Hazing Act of 2018 prohibits all forms of hazing in organizations in schools.[1]As an organization refers to an organized body of people,[2]the prohibition on hazing extends to school-based varsity teams. Previously, hazing in sports teams were arguably not covered by the old hazing law. But with the new amendments in the Anti-Hazing Act of 2018, hazing now applies to sports teams.

So, what is hazing?

Hazing is:

  1. Any act that results in physical or psychological suffering, harm, or injury;
  2. Inflicted on a recruit, neophyte, applicant, or member;
  3. As either a prerequisite for admission ora requirement for continuing membership in an organization.[3]

Hazing is not limited to the meaning normally associated with it, i.e. barbaric and useless physical violence inflicted by fraternities on their neophytes, like paddling, beating, and whipping. It also includes acts that result in the psychological suffering or harm of a member. Hence, forcing rookies to engage in sexual acts (such as what was done to David Beckham when he was a youngster in Manchester United) or joining team trips to strip clubs and prostitution joints is considered hazing if these result in their psychological harm.

As an aside, there must be better team bonding activities than heading to a strip club. If you’re the coach, the team captain, or a senior member of the team andcan’t think of one, then what are you doing leading the team in the first place?

Whoa. So, we can’t force them to make out with girls? BADUY. Walang pakisama. Can we get our rookies drunk then?

Hazing also includes forcing members to drink liquor and alcohol and to consume drugs or other substances.[4]So, forcing them to go binge drinking is hazing. So is forcing a newbie to smoke some pot. And embarrassing and ostracizing them just because they don’t share your idea of “fun” is downright wrong.

Oh, by the way, ikaw yung baduy with your misplaced standards of masculinity. Stay woke, bro. (And tssss to your walang pakisama argument.)

Fine. We just want them to do silly stuff. Don’t tell me that’s hazing too.

It is. Hazing also includes any activity that tends to humiliate or embarrass, degrade, or endanger wherein a recruit, neophyte, applicant, or member is required to do menial, silly, or foolish tasks.[5]

So, requiring rookies to strip or undress is hazing—and why you’d want them to do so is beyond me. These activities tend to humiliate or embarrass.

What about court clean-ups then? Or asking the rookies to do the laundry?

 Requiring rookies to clean up the court or carry team equipment won’t be considered hazing if these do not humiliate, embarrass, or abuse the rookies. But won’t it be better practice for the entire team—seniors included—to pitch in in these clean-up duties?

Just look at French football ex-captain and current coach Didier Deschamps! He was the captain of a World Cup winning team andstill carried the team water, which prompted Eric Cantona to belittle him and call him the Water Carrier. Not the kind of leadership we think of, but the kind of leadership we need.

deschamps.gif
Leader. Coach. Champion.

Get off your soap box! Our rookies said they want to do it!

Prior approval or consent of the rookies to be hazed is immaterial.[6]It is not a defense to any criminal liability that may be imposed on persons who actually planned or participated in the hazing.[7]So, in the words of early 2000s the Rock, “it doesn’t matter!” if they consented or not.

The Rock.gif

You’re taking the fun out of things!

 Stop being a baby (no offense to babies). There are some things you can still do. For example, hazing does not include customary athletic events or other similar contests or competitions or any other activity or conduct that furthers a legal and legitimate objective, subject to the prior submission of a medical clearance or certificate.[8]Therefore, tryouts like requiring prospective members to run a certain number of kilometers around the campus is not hazing because these further a legitimate objective. However, the team must require prospective members to submit a medical clearance or certificate before tryouts.

You may still conduct initiation rites, as long as these do not constitute hazing.[9]However, to do so, teams must submit a written application to the school authorities not later than seven days before the scheduled initiation date.[10] In any case, these initiation rites must not last for more than three days,[11]and at least two school representatives must be present during the initiation rites to ensure that no hazing is conducted.[12]

Know what? The question “are certain initiation rites considered hazing?” should not be an issue in the first place. Maybe it’s time  initiation rites are removed altogether. Rookies should prove their place in and commitment to the team based on their efforts in the playing field and court, not by having to undergo “traditional” initiation rites.

Isn’t it time to remove traditions that are prone to abuse?

Removing initiation rites will remove the stratification between rookies and seniors. It will not only protect the rookies from possible hazing, it will also teach the seniors lifelong lessons on humility and true leadership. The team should be viewed as a collective whole, regardless of the number of years played. Seniority does not make one a better person and player—humility and leadership do.

mic drop.gif

 

Mickey Ingles is the editor-in-chief of Batas Sportiva.


 

[1]Anti-Hazing Act, Section 3.

[2]Id., Section 2 (c).

[3]Id., Section 2 (a).

[4]Id.

[5]Id.

[6]Anti-Hazing Act, Section 12.

[7]Id.

[8]Id., Section 3.

[9]Id., Section 4.

[10]Id., Section 4 (a).

[11]Id., Section 4 (d).

[12]Id., Section 5.

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