There have been numerous documented cases of "hazing gone wrong" among high school and college students. Football teams, baseball teams, lacrosse teams, fraternities, sororities and even marching bands have all been guilty of taking "initiation" too far.
These tragedies have made hazing and bullying very hot button issues in our culture today. Kids who have been, and still are, the targets of outlandish behavior need to be protected.
We must realize there is a difference between hazing/bullying and having an "initiation" for new members of a group. Bullying and hazing are hurtful, destructive and only serve the purposes of the instigator.
Whether it is a sports team, the military, or an actual fraternity/sorority, having initiations builds chemistry, camaraderie, and serves as a rite of passage for people entering a fraternity. We cannot be so sensitive and try to find fault and some egregious act within things that we do not understand.
So many people are up in arms about the video posted by New York Giants punter Steve Weatherford showing the Giants "locker room activities." The video shows DE Jason Pierre-Paul throwing CB Prince Amukamara into a cold tub.
Numerous reports and television shows have been calling for heads to roll. They are citing the language used in the video and the look on Amukamara's face when we got out of the water.
No one is going to be happy and smiling when they get thrown in 40-degree water. It is an NFL locker room, how do you think most guys in the locker room talk? The testosterone levels in an NFL locker room are so high that you can feel it when you walk in the room.
For the most part, the league is made up of tough, aggressive and intelligent alpha males. Professional sports, especially football, are not for the weak, soft or faint of heart.
Rookie initiations have toned down dramatically from the "old days." I have heard stories that I won't speak of because I believe that most things that happen in the locker room should stay there.
Nowadays, rookies are expected to buy food, sing, carry helmets and pads, possibly get their heads or eyebrows shaved, get taped to the goalpost where no one will rescue them, perform at the rookie show, and more than likely get a dunk in the cold tub.
When you watch the video, you should notice that Amukamara never puts up any fight or opposition even though he knew his fate. I know he is not a rookie (he is entering his second season in the league in 2012), but the same goes for locker room pranks. It is an honor to be an NFL player, and there are some dues to be paid. The point of the initiations is to humble you and show that you are at the bottom and you have to work your way to the top.
There are very few, if any, players who have escaped any of the aforementioned duties. These traditions are passed along from year to year and are just a part of the culture and brotherhood of professional football. These things are necessary to establish the respect for the hierarchy.
Seniority is preached in the NFL and practiced by winning teams. The oldest players get first choice at everything and rookies get the leftovers no matter how good they are. Choice of music in the weight room, seats on the plane, and favorable times for team activities are all assigned by seniority.
We live in a world where everyone wants the easy route, but in the world of sports you have to earn your keep. This incident is no big deal and should have never been posted for public consumption.
At the end of the day, people don't want to know what goes on in the locker room!