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Dear Coach: Hazed and confused

Dear Coach,
"Son, we live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who's gonna do it? You? You, Lt. Weinberg? I have a greater responsibility than you could possibly fathom. You weep for Santiago, and you curse the Marines. You have that luxury. You have that luxury of not knowing what I know. That Santiago's death, while tragic, probably saved lives. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives. You don't want the truth because deep down in places you don't talk about at parties, you want me on that wall; you need me on that wall. We use words like honor, code, loyalty. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punch-line. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said thank you, and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon and stand a post. Either way, I don't give a damn what you think you are entitled to." [Jack Nicholson's character, Col. Nathan Jessep, A Few Good Men, 1992]
That quote inspires me to get up and go to work every day, man! #warriorsliveforsundays!
Richie I., Miami, FL
Dear Richie,
In 1997, real-life U.S. Marine Corps Captain Andrew Wilcox poignantly pointed out that, "[T]he Marine Corps is steeped in tradition, lore, and heritage; and hazing [was] as much a part of that tradition as playing taps at a funeral." Captain Wilcox' article, titled "Hazing is not a Rite" articulated an argument for much-needed change. Richie, as I'm sure the point was lost on you, please take notice of the Captain's spelling of the word rite.
In response to the mainstream characterization and caricaturization of its culture of hazing, the United States Marine Corps adopted a zero tolerance policy. Hazing, which is defined by the Marines as "any conduct whereby one military member... causes another military member... to suffer or be exposed to an activity which is cruel, abusive, humiliating, or oppressive" became "a crime punishable by at least seven different articles of the Uniform Code of Military Justice." Captain Wilcox identified that "hazing capitalizes on an individual's need to feel that he or she is part of a larger whole, a process psychologists call de-individualization" while noting that initiation rites "test one's resolve to surrender his identity to become part of the group" and "bonding via rituals is essential for warriors."
One nationally-recognized writer said of the morally-bereft metatheater in which you, Richie, are the lead, "I guess the nuanced line in the scandal in Miami is that a locker room is a complicated organism, and the aggression/affection dynamic between teammates is impossible for outsiders to understand." Going on to rhetorically raise the question, "[W]hat's the point of being strong if all you stand for is abusing a suffering teammate" and leaving-open for reflection and consideration what to do when those we look to as paragons are, in reality, pariahs.
Initiation rituals and rites of passage are commonplace in the military, in religious communities, across cultures, and in sports. The Marines are proud of certain of their institutionalized rites of passage and the initiation rituals of e.g. boot camp and/or officer candidate school; and rightfully so. Sports too have their proper, positive and beneficial initiation rituals and rites of passage. They're called training camps and preseason practices, and involve the running of suicides, not the provocation of thoughts of committing it (suicide).
The gauntlet laid down and to be overcome or passed-through by the uninitiated via rites of passage is most appropriately done by the person in the leadership role, e.g. the coach. Initiation rituals and rites of passage are designed to be physically and emotionally challenging; intending to first break the initiate down in order to then - and as is the whole purpose - build him back up.
Hazing personifies the former, while wholly lacking in the latter. Hazing involves abuse and humiliation. The nuance and the fine line in the sand-but the one that makes the pivotal difference - between the strengthening properties of rites of passage and the shameful, empty, corrupt, abuses of power of hazing is found in the fact that hazing's singular purpose is the degradation and disgrace of someone in a position of virtual sub-servitude to and by a person in a position of power, strictly for the latter's entertainment.
Rites of passage have a strengthening purpose. In nadir-like fashion, hazing's singular purpose is to artificially support and boost the otherwise fragile ego of someone who personifies the idea of the abuse of power for the ironic purpose of camouflaging their own shortcomings. It is not by happenstance that the majority of the hazing rituals of preference of fraternities and warrior-cultured sports teams take on homo-erotic, sadomasochistic tendencies when you stop to consider that the motivating factor of and behind the most egregious offenders of these hazing-inspired crimes is a twisted sense of sadomachoism or more accurately, sadonarcissism.

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