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BOTD 5/21/14 "Hold The Catsup" A mahoover Production

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David M. Katz


Marshall
HOLD THE CATSUP
A mahoover Production

Your son John is an avid soccer (football outside the US Very Happy) player.  In your area there are two levels of teams.  The first is rec league where everyone who wants to gets on a team and plays.  The second is club, where you have to pass a tryout to get one the team.  John has been a star on a rec league team for the last few years, and this year he decided that he wanted to try out for a club team.  He was ecstatic when he made the cut for the team.  He went to the first practice earlier this week, and said it was hard but he had fun and learned a lot.  Tonight, when you picked him up from practice he seemed down and wasn't very talkative.  After dinner, he came to you and said he wanted to quit the team.  When you asked him why he wanted to quit, he just said that he didn't like soccer any more.  When you pushed him a little more, he told you that the team "initiated" him after practice.  They stripped the new players, then squirted them with Catsup,  and finally tossed them in the shower.  John has always been shy, and you can tell that he is really embarrassed.

John (in center) with his new team mates
[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]

What do you do from here?


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John Boy


Sherrif
that is hard, technically Hazing or initiations can bring up some serious trouble. Frankly I want t talk to the coach but I know that will make things worse. I will let him know it is his choice, though I would suggest he sleep on it a few nights.

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Jack


Admin
Are the boys expected to shower after practice or games? I hate to be picky, but it does make a difference.

Be that as it may, there is a difference between undressing and being stripped. I guess I also need to be sure the 'being stripped' is what bothered him.

I don't want to make a huge deal out of this, because there was no harm done, but I also want John to be able to feel comfortable and safe in playing. I have to admit that part of me thinks John is making a big deal out of nothing.

I think I'm going to suggest talking with the coach before we make any other decision. I'll call him now and we'll check his attitude. I think the coach needs to end the initiations and that the players who were involved need to apologize, but that we should keep it there, so as not to stir up more trouble than it deserves.


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kalico


Sherrif
Very Happy  YUP!...what Jack say's!

part of me wants to say.... that it was an honor or right of passage and that he should be happy they included him......Im not sure I can call this bullying but then everyone has their own Idea on that.





hugs kal

mahoover


Cowboy
Jack wrote:Are the boys expected to shower after practice or games?  I hate to be picky, but it does make a difference.  

Be that as it may, there is a difference between undressing and being stripped.  I guess I also need to be sure the 'being stripped' is what bothered him.

I don't want to make a huge deal out of this, because there was no harm done, but I also want John to be able to feel comfortable and safe in playing.  I have to admit that part of me thinks John is making a big deal out of nothing.

I think I'm going to suggest talking with the coach before we make any other decision.  I'll call him now and we'll check his attitude. I think the coach needs to end the initiations and that the players who were involved need to apologize, but that we should keep it there, so as not to stir up more trouble than it deserves.

When I was writing the scenario, I was thinking that showers after practice were normal, but not required.

And Jack's answer was almost exactly what I was planning to send later, so put me down for a ditto.

I do think this was very close to bullying, but just barely misses bullying. Hopefully talking with the coach will help John get past this.

Stone Man


Marshall
I'm with Jack's approach to the situation. The fact the initiation involved all the new boys lessens any thoughts I had that this was intended as bullying. Such events can be hard on super shy boys. I think my time would be well spent trying to help my boy over his super shyness.

AFinch


Sherrif
I also agree with Jack's approach.

I was an enthusiastic cub scout. I was also a shy kid. It was common knowledge that when one became a boy scout, there was a similar hazing activity to the one in tonight's BoTD. I opted out.

squarecutter


Sherrif
I want him to sleep on this and hopefully feel that if this was the worst that can happen it will in the end make him stronger. Its harsh but as you go up the grades in sport you will be tested out more. Accept this and the team will accept you. I will talk to the Coach about it but I need to do it in a way that doesn't backfire

ivor


Marshall
I think hazing or initiation rituals have disappeared in UK whereas from what I read they still appear to exist in US where this is set. Thus seems highly likely that John was going to come across it at some point in his time at school/univ. I also can't see that it would go on here without the coach being aware.

I'll point this out to John and then it has to be his decision. However, now it has happened to him I presume it won't happen again - unless there are team penalties for poor performance etc.

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MemoryMan


Sherrif
I find it hard to imagine that John had been playing in the rec league for several years without becoming aware of the initiation customs of the club teams.

On dredging up my ancient childhood memories initiations were a test of mettle as much as anything else and all the team members will have been through it themselves.  

If John took it well he's now "one of the boys" and in spite of the embarrassment has gained their respect.  If he took it badly he's likely been branded a "cry baby," will have lost respect and may as well pack up now.

I can talk to John, support him and discuss ways of overcoming his excessive shyness but I fear this particular horse may already have bolted.

John no doubt knows some of the boys from around the neighbourhood or at school and there is no intervention I can make that doesn't carry the potential to make things worse for him in the long run.

Sad - but the world is a real place.

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Kai


Deputy
I mostly agree with Jacks approach.
What I need to talk about with John is the general attitude his new (or maybe former) team mates showed to him during the training and after the initiation.
Did they treat him like exclusive club members treat an upstart?
Or did they show a mostly friendly and comradely attitude?
Was there a difference in their attitude toward him before and after the "ceremony"?
While thinking about that he possibly comes to the conclusion that it's just the price of being a part and that playing there might be worth that (hopefully one time) price.

Jack


Admin
I have a lot of thoughts on hazing. I can understand requiring something unpleasant for a person to pass through, showing they really want to be part of something, and letting them know that they're really earned the acceptance of those who were already there. On the other hand, it seems that it got incredibly out of hand over the years.

Was this out of hand or even dangerous? No - not beyond what any roughhousing between boys would be.

I think the real trouble is that, in today's environment, anything that could remotely be called bullying, hazing, or harassment are treated as such, and this should probably be dealt with quietly, before real trouble results from it.


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MemoryMan


Sherrif
Since all the newbies suffered the same fate the initiation appears to me to be a one off rite of passage.

The experience has been unpleasant for John but now is a good time for me to discuss the "R" word - RESILIENCE with him.  

If he can bring himself to rejoin the team and, over little time, contribute and show some grit, then from my knowledge of working with boys in competition all will not have been lost and he will have learned a valuable life skill.

It is though a situation he must deal with (or duck) himself

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Kat


Editor Extraordinaire
I don't see this is a harmless rite of passage. John is a clear example that it causes harm, as he now is soured on the soccer team and wants to quit. There is a world of difference between an initiation in which one is a voluntary participant and being set upon by a bunch of other people and having one's clothes forcibly stripped off.

My partner was in the US Navy in the early 1980s and went through the Equator Crossing ceremony; and even that far back, the Navy had begun to take steps to ensure that the ceremony remained safe and fun, while preserving the tradition, which did involve a good bit of discomfort, including being whacked on the ass repeatedly with lengths of fire hose. No one was forced to participate, and one person did, in fact, elect not to. That is the difference between initiation and hazing.

Hazing is illegal in the US, and for good reasons, though it does continue. Every year, a few Greek organizations have a few of their particularly stupid members face criminal charges, while the frats or sororities in question face sanctions from their universities or discipline from their own organization. There is little I can do to help John, other than to point out that the hazing is over with now; I'll encourage him to stay with the team for a while in the hopes that he can put the experience behind him. I'll also have a word with the coach, when I'll point out to him that he is responsible for permitting illegal hazing. If he has the sense God gave a goose, he'll see to it that this was the last hazing.

Kat

StevieWeeks


Trailboss
Stevie wrote a story about this once...

Roger, the Plumber's Apprentice - Initiation

Don't bother reading it though, it's not very good and all... Embarassed 

Stevie...

1strappedboy


Sherrif
I think I'm glad I came late to the party on this one!!

In general, I'm in Jack's camp with this. While it was common when we were kids to face some hazing upon the joining of an organization, it is extremely frowned upon if not directly forbidden today. Too, I may inquire quietly as to whether the Coach is aware and how HE handles these matters.

I would encourage him to rethink leaving the team since he has, after all, "survived" his initiation and now is considered to be fully 'one of the guys'. Depending on how he comes around on the matter, I could also point out that next year HE will be among those doing the initiating.

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