Volume 92, Issue 32

Friday, October 30, 1998

big money


Nothing wrong with the purple haze

The recent sanctions imposed by Western's administration on the Mustang Football team have left a sour taste in the mouth of many football enthusiasts.

The players have been illustrated as bad guys, committing crimes against humanity with their hazing practices. Some have dubbed them near barbarians.

Their crime – initiation. An act which the student population must agree is not committed by anyone else. Well, except for certain sororities. Other varsity teams have been known to do it too. Oh yeah, don't forget that some fraternities are guilty of this crime as well. Need I go on?

Let's look at this hot issue from the world of reality for moment. Initiation is a practice which has been conducted probably longer than this university has existed. It is a tradition of roasting the newcomers as they enter into a sacred and some may say elite club. A way of bonding the group into a collective. Seniors do it to the rookies and in turn several years later, the punished become the punishers. No one is singled out in this process.

Without doubt, more than half of the Western student body has probably been exposed to hazing in one way or another, at some point in their lives.

So why the sudden shock that the football team was conducting such atrocities? Clearly, it appears the administration is attempting to make an example out of them so that others may bear witness to their powers.

Let us consider the crime. The humiliation of the football team is said to be the result of two issues – several incidents which occurred during training camp in early September and the Oct. 2 hit-and-run near J.W. Little Stadium, in which freshman Preston Haynes has since been charged.

To start, let's throw the hit-and-run argument out the door before it can be considered any longer. This was an incident where one individual lost control of his emotions and did something he will probably never forgive himself for. Reality says it was not the master plan of the football team to play "run-down-the-engineer." So, let us consider this matter closed.

The issue of hazing at training camp is more valid for argument. Events were held and no doubt some wacky, wild stuff went on behind closed doors – big surprise. Fatherly administration gets wind of the escapades and comes to the team's moral rescue to deem such actions as inexcusable. Sanctions are imposed on the team, including having head coach Larry Haylor step down for two games and putting the squad on probation.

What happened during initiation, only a selective few will ever know. But then again, that is part of the tradition of initiation – to keep the information within the group. What administration has done is poke their nose into a place where there was an unwritten rule they would never enter. Intercollegiate athletics has held a code of conduct policy for a long time, but you could not convince a horsefly that administration and coaches had absolutely no idea those rules were being broken before.

There is no argument that society is changing and such acts are not as excepted as they once were. On the other hand, most would also agree the severity of hazing has diminished over the years because of this.

What Western administration has done in one fell swoop is attempt to stamp out completely a century old tradition – after taking little to no action over the past decade.

To Contact The Sports Department: gazette.sports@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998