Welcome to the 21st century
Yesterday, Major League Baseball took a big step forward by banning the act of having rookies dress up in drag or women’s clothes as part of the traditional hazing practices. Further (and less specifically), players will also be banned from forcing rookies to dress up in “offensive costumes” with that application of that definition at the sole discretion of the league.
The act of forcing grown men to dress like women for the sole purpose of ridicule is objectionable to many for reasons so obvious I wish they didn’t need to be stated, but with rules like this just now emerging, it’s clear they do. This piece by Nancy Armour sums it up as well as one could hope:
There are elements of rookie hazing in any sport that seem good-natured and sometimes funny, but everyone draws the line of good taste in different places. However, the only discretion that matters (besides that of the players involved) is the sport’s itself, as only leagues and teams have the power to punish players who run afoul of stated policies. Too often, the teams themselves are too concerned about benching or offending a key player to put their foot down, so sadly, that puts an element of moral policing squarely in the league’s jurisdiction.
Some notable players saw the ban as needless and overly-sensitive (this tweet has since been taken down):
However, what this vantage point fails to acknowledge is that this ban doesn’t exist solely for the benefit and protection of Major League Baseball or its rookies. This type of act takes place in pro, college, and high school sports across the country, and banning it at the top is the most effective way to keep younger, more impressionable players from emulating the questionable acts of their heroes.
So while players may somehow, inexplicably, view their time forced to dress as women as an “honor” (really?)…
Those days are mercifully behind us, though the MLB’s refusal to ban hazing in general means that players will look elsewhere to demonstrate their questionable taste in sportsmanship.