Congrats, MLB, on Finally Getting Rid of Your Stupid Hazing
John McDermott
81

Here’s my take for anyone who doesn’t care:

First, because credentials are typically important in these settings, I played baseball at several levels, including college and some fake semi-pro teams after (they called themselves that, but it was for people like me who couldn’t give it up so played for free). It was a game that I held an unhealthy obsession with, that exacerbated my natural bipolar disorder by pushing me to extreme heights and extreme depths. I enjoyed the breadth of the game, well beyond just the typical game you see but the little nuances that casual observers tend to yawn over. It was the intricate details that made it fun for me, because that was usually what separated “good” from “great”.

That said, I had a mixed bag of feelings on hazing, but was typically against it. When I reached my senior year of high school I personally implemented a no hazing policy and stood up for every JV player (7th — 9th graders usually) who felt the typical debauchery seen in any locker room was going too far or was too one sided. I hated it, it didn’t make sense to me. Here’s precisely how I summed up the stupidity of hazing:

Welcome to the team! You’re going to love it here, so long as you fit in and do as we say. Now in an effort to make you comfortable we’re going to beat the shit out of you!

It was an ass backward practice that often drove division between teammates but never really mattered because the ones taking abuse more often than not weren’t integral players to the team anyways so it went overlooked. We had four seniors (including me) that year, and they really didn’t care about hazing, we were all more interested in getting better and winning games — but the juniors weren’t happy with my personal vendetta on hazing. They felt it a rite of passage, “but we took it and now it’s our turn” — being vindictive is pathetic.

On the same hand, there is a pretty big difference in hazing someone to a point that it could be toxic to the team or just to general humanity (we’ve heard the sexual assault, or as I call it “rape”, stories that include someone penetrating their teammate with some random object, it’s insane) and making a teammate get a weird haircut for a day, wear something out of their norm, or whatever. While I still personally find that stuff stupid, it isn’t really an issue either.

Do you feel offended when someone dresses a dog up in a sweater? No. It’s the same concept. Yes, some men wear women’s clothes for a variety of reasons, and no one is making fun of them. We’re making fun of the general absurdity it is for baseball players to get off wearing silly costumes or clothing that is atypical to what baseball players wear. “But someone could misconstrue that” — who cares? Genuinely, we have to stop being so damn particular about what MIGHT happen because people are extremely stereotypical and basic.

If you think it’s wrong for people to find it funny that a grown hairy male baseball player would be wearing a pink tutu while getting off the team plane then you’re an idiot — that simple. Though clearly stupid, it’s funny to me and even if you don’t find it funny there is no possible argument you can make that I SHOULDN’T. To think it makes some grand statement on transgenders or women is fabricated in your imagination and lacks logic. Everyone has a varying sense of humor, but many would laugh if these same players got off the bus wearing clown costumes…it’s the same broad point, it’s funny to break social norms. It can be funny in multiple ways — it’s funny to do it because it’s just out of place (what these players are shooting for) and even better it’s WAY funnier when you do something considered taboo and see the reactions of other people, their discomfort is pure joy for me (not what they’re shooting for).

Conservatives haven’t done a good job of framing their “PC bullshit” arguments, but they have some valid points. We’re trying to constantly police thought and it’s getting dangerously ridiculous. You can’t control what people find bad, good, silly, funny, gross, weird, or anything, nor should you want to because that’s the end of free will and the ability to think critically. Some people are just going to come to wrong conclusions, some will even come to some seriously stupid ones, but that’s their right to do so and they also have the right to be treated with the respect that you clearly aren’t willing to give but are simultaneously demanding. But you cannot police thought, you can’t force or manipulate people to believing as you do and then call them shitty people when they don’t. At a high level it’s the exact same principle you’re fighting against.

I’ve said this from day 1 — I don’t care if baseball dies, but it should die as it lived. I know it won’t, because it’s a business, but not all things have to adapt and have to continue. Baseball, for so many, is a sacred kind of sport. If people don’t want to watch it because they attempt to interpret (wrongly) the meanings and feelings of these individuals based on the minutia of data that they’re given then fuck ’em — that’s as bluntly as it can be put. It’s a service, if you no longer like the service (entertainment is a service, not a product) then fine but don’t demand that the individuals performing that service compromise themselves for your sake, just stop watching.

Many people have — including myself — and shame on baseball for caving and giving in to the ideals of outsiders. I think hazing is stupid, but it isn’t immoral.

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