A Q & A with The Sports Doc

Dear Dr. Stankovich:
I have heard a lot about hazing in sports, but I'm not exactly sure what hazing is. Can you elaborate?
J.S. (Columbus)

Dear J.S.:
Hazing, loosely defined, is when existing group members set out certain tasks (including, but not limited to: humiliation, punishment, or servitude of some kind) for a new team member to complete in order to be "officially" accepted by the group.

Hazing is sometimes difficult to identify in sports, because even relatively simple tasks (like running once around a track) can be argued to be a team-building ritual and not a form of hazing.

Most people would agree that if an exercise is coercive, dangerous, or humiliating in any way (even covertly), then it is likely a form of hazing. In these instances, and even in seemingly less dangerous situations, it is best to immediately meet with the coach to address the situation. Thanks for your question!

Dear Dr. Stankovich:
My son occasionally feels "entitled" because of the attention he receives from the student body at his school. While we are very proud of his athletic accomplishments and love him dearly, we want to make sure his success doesn't go to his head. We are also concerned that he sometimes makes dangerous decisions because he thinks he is invincible because of his athletic success. Do you have any advice on what we can do?
T.M. (Delaware)

Dear T.M.:
Thanks for your note. Your concerns are understandable.

First, congratulations to you and your son for his athletic success! Obviously you love your son very much and want the best for him - in sports and in all aspects of his life - and it is quite admirable that you are addressing a very important concern.

Discuss these ideas with your son to help him make more responsible decisions:
The realities of "making it" in sports. Include the small odds, as well as the potential for a career-ending injury. Unfortunately, the life of an athlete is usually relatively short - another reason why it's important to stay humble and work hard in the classroom. Being a student athlete is a privilege, not a right. Similar to a job, rules must be followed and consequences must be faced when rules are broken. Student athletes, while given many privileges, are also responsible for their behaviors, and can lose their opportunities to play if they do not meet the required standards set out by their school and OHSAA (Ohio High School Athletic Association). Be sure your son fully understands how important it is to act responsibly while competing in interscholastic sports. Most importantly, find time to talk with your son and look for ways that you can teach him the importance of responsible behavior, not just in sports. Your guidance, nurturing and role modeling will have a tremendous impact on your child's future decisions. Good luck!