Hey! Dan Carson—rush chairman! Darn glad to meet ya!
Welcome to Beta Rho, aka The Bleacher Report, where today we’ll be discussing the process of rookie hazing in professional sports.
Putting new members through initiation is a timeless tradition for athletic programs and Greek societies alike. It’s a passing of tradition—a rite of passage where veterans ask newbies to demonstrate their commitment to the team by undertaking the seemingly silly, stupid and trivial.
Many people don’t “get” the point of hazing. That’s fine, but as long as there are rookies and pledges in the world, they will be asked to humble themselves and throw on a Smurf outfit—for the team, of course.
The following is a fun and effective guide on “inspiring” your team’s pledges—ahem, rookies. It’s clean and marginally mean, but won’t end in chaos and fleeing livestock.
This is how to properly haze your rookies.
A uniform haircut for a group of rookies requires three things:
- The cheapest electric clippers money can buy.
- Intense distaste for the human form.
- Zero uniformity.
Darnell Dockett understands these rules and the Arizona defensive end applied them effectively during a recent haircutting clinic with Cardinals rookies.
Dockett wielded his clippers with all the empathy of a drunken axe murderer, carving up the heads of Tyrann Mathieu, Padric Scott and other first-year Cardinals players. It was like watching Sweeney Todd work out his homicidal bend on hairlines instead of jugulars.
Fosters: Humility / unity through joint ugliness.
Drawbacks: The Charlie Villaneuva effect.
Image via @ddockett90 / accessathletes.com
Nothing says “You’re my little baby-back Belle” quite like making the new guys sport a fashionable Disney-themed princess backpack.
Furthermore, pledges love themed backpacks. Ask Chris Copeland, who had to strap one on through 2012-13 while playing for the New York Knicks. Copeland loved his princess backpack so much that he whipped the little pink bag out during a press conference and told the media he planned on turning it into a statue.
“I’m keeping [my princess backpack] for life,” Copeland said. “But seriously, it means a lot to me. I might bronze it or something.”
Those are the words of a man who understands that style isn’t just wearing a Disney princess backpack, it’s how you wear a Disney princess backpack.
Fosters: Togetherness, appreciation for feminine side.
Drawbacks: Chafing, limited carrying capacity.
Man, it’s been such a hot day, hasn’t it, rook?
You know what would really hit the spot right now? Getting Scotch-taped to a goalpost and having five gallons of icy water poured onto my face.
Buffalo Bills veterans know how to keep their rookies cool, as they proved earlier this August when several players taped rookie cornerback Kip Edwards to a practice-field goalpost and dumped a cooler of ice-water onto his head.
The freezing cold is a part of life for anyone who wants to play in Buffalo, and the vets would be remiss if they didn’t start their new guys on the fast track to becoming a human polar bear.
Fosters: Thick skin, hydration.
Drawbacks: Was the tape okay?
Want to be on the team, pledge? You got to earn the uniform.
The most popular and easy way to remind a rookie they’re new to the organization is to dress them up like a goof and call in the Nikons.
The picture you see here is of young Mike Trout in 2011, fresh-faced as ever and just brought up to the big leagues by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. He is a wearing a baby bonnet and diaper because he was an infant in the league, and that is self-explanatory.
Note: It doesn’t matter what you make your new guys wear, as long as it sends the following message: “I did not wake up this morning with this outfit in mind.”
Fosters: Self confidence.
Drawbacks: Explaining to mom and dad why you’re a little teapot, short and stout.
Birds fly, fish swim and pledges provide sober rides for senior members of the fraternity.
These are rules written in the stars themselves and it only makes sense that the rich tradition of new guys providing rides to veterans should transfer over into the realm of professional sports.
The most recent rookie chauffeur of note was the Anaheim Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler, who was compelled to drive team captain Ryan Getzlaf and winger Teemu Selanne to the Ducks’ home opener in 2010.
In truth, Teemu Selanne deserves to be chauffeured anywhere and everywhere he desires. A flow like that deserves to emerge from nothing but the back of luxury automobiles.
Fosters: Knowledge of new town, respect for elders.
Drawbacks: Entrusting your automobile to a nervous kid who doesn’t know your area.
You must always—ALWAYS—do the cooking by the book when you’re dealing with new guys.
In the case of Tennessee Titans rookies Lavelle Hawkins and Cary Williams, the book called for every item in the kitchen without a “Harmful If Swallowed” label.
In 2008, a group of Titans veterans strapped the two rookies to a post and went to town, working them over with flour, eggs and mustard, among other things.
According to former Titans linebacker Keith Bullock, he and the guys were just “trying to make a cake.” I hear it’s a piece of cake to bake a pretty cake, and I imagine it only becomes easier when you start replacing the icing with honey and mayonnaise.
Fosters: Perseverance in the face of adversity, an appreciation for the culinary arts.
Drawbacks: No breakfast omelets in the morning.
You know who likes a scuffed up shoe? No one. Not even hobos.
Even a man who eats potted meat and sleeps in a railcar can appreciate a well-shined shoe and, as such, it’s proper to instill in your pledges a reverence for a clean, maintained pair of kicks.
The picture in this slide shows two Detroit Lions veterans in 1958 teaching their rookies an important lesson in shoe maintenance. Sure, shoe-shining as a practice was more prevalent in their times, but a glossy pair of Oxfords never goes out of style.
These two vets aren’t hazing these rookies—they’re prepping them for life.
Fosters: Tidiness, an appreciation for personal presentation.
Drawbacks: A bad shoe polish will rub off on things—like rookies’ shirts, for one.
A common misconception some people have concerning the fraternity/sorority lifestyle is the belief that those involved in the Greek community “buy their friends.”
In reality, entry into any respectable brotherhood or sisterhood is bought through blood, sweat and good old-fashioned insomnia.
However, certain circumstances arise when being lowest on the totem pole means putting up some extra scratch as Baltimore Ravens rookie fullback Kyle Juszczyk did earlier this August.
The Ravens were at the airport heading to their preseason opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers when players were struck with a hankering for Chick-Fil-A (some place usually in the mall).
Unfortunately for Juszczyk, they don’t just give away chicken and waffle fries for free, and the rookie ended up picking up a $100 tab for 216 nuggets. On the bright side, the former Harvard standout just signed a four-year, $2.46 million contract with the Ravens. He’ll be alright.
Fosters: An appreciation for nature, where the alphas of the pack eat first.
Drawbacks: Chick-Fil-A isn’t open on Sunday, which is the worst.
Here’s a child, hot shot. Keep it alive, fed and happy or else you’ll pay the consequences.
Teaching new guys that they no longer just have themselves to worry about is one of the biggest challenges for organizations and it’s something former Cleveland Cavaliers coach Byron Scott attempted to impart upon his players during his time in Ohio.
Scott gave his rookies baby dolls and pink strollers before a game in 2012 and told them to make sure they had milk and Pampers on their person at all times.
Sure, there’s the embarrassment factor in this approach—pro ballplayers toting disposable diapers in and out of the stadium (hopefully while wearing Beats by Dre), but the point of the “hazing” was to remind rookies of their responsibility to the organization.
Remember rooks: Team and babies over everything.
Fosters: Accountability, off-the-court sense of responsibility, ability to use HOV lane.
Drawbacks: Spoiled milk.
The most important rule you can ever teach a young member of your organization is that insubordination will not be tolerated.
Steph Curry and the rest of the Warriors veterans stuffed rookie Kent Bazemore's ride up to the moonroof with salty, buttery popped kernels this April after securing a spot in the postseason.
You’ve got to keep your rookies off balance, or else they start getting entitled—and what better cure for entitlement than an Audi full of Orville Redenbaucher?
Fosters: Vigilance, responsibility for personal possessions.
Drawbacks: Eight months from now, they will return the favor.
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