When you think of hazing rituals, what do you think of?
Do you think of teenagers having strings tied around their scrotums and being forced to drag a water bottle carrier around the floor by that same string while their teammates mock them and throw towels on the containers to add extra weight?
Because that’s exactly what happened to five teenage Junior A hockey players in Neepawa, Manitoba in late September. The Neepawa Natives may claim to “have a rich and proud history of developing players for all levels of hockey,” but this team doesn’t seem to have any kind of history of respect or common sense at any level, given that the Assistant Coach of the team was in the room while this was going on.
When one player (who has remained anonymous) admitted to his parents what had happened, they filed a complaint against the team. Did the team realize the error of their ways? Hardly. They told the complaining player that he had to apologize to his teammates for ratting them out, then he was asked to “take some time off from playing” — he has since quit the team entirely. His family has also faced criticism from the entire community for filing the complaint.
The Manitoba Junior Hockey League, who has oversight over the Neepawa Natives, isn’t being quite as obtuse. They investigated the complaints of all players. Today, they announced the team had been fined $5,000 and the Head Coach, Assistant Coach, Team Captain and various players have all been suspended for multiple games. In addition, all clubs in the MJHL will be expected to participate in an educational program to hopefully eradicate hazing. The RCMP is also investigating the incident.
However, ultimately, the perpetrators will all go back to playing hockey, while the victim who was brave enough to speak out against the abuse is sitting on the sidelines, teamless. Is that what the MJHL and Hockey Canada are really saying — that being a silent “team player” in the face of abuse is the only way to really be successful in hockey?
Photo Credit: dawhitfield on Flickr.