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Sports hazing: when you can't bring yourself to admit you're gay

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I’m not sure why we call sports hazing, hazing, and not something more descriptive. Like, “Just because I’m sticking this pine cone up your ass doesn’t mean I’m some kinda fuckin’ homo.”

What stuns me about societal acceptance of hazing, particularly in youth sports — well, a lot stuns me, but I’ll stick to this one thing — is how a community can rally around athletes and coaches who participate and condone in homoerotic fantasies and exercises, when if the athletes were otherwise engaged in consensual gay activity, they would have a societal pine cone shoved up their asses.

Sports hazing is in the news again as ex-Willard High (Ohio) wrestling coach Todd Fox sued the parents of a wrestler who alleged he was bullied. Fox says the parents are harassing and defaming him, thus depriving him of coaching opportunities elsewhere. Fox is still employed as a teacher, but he resigned in March 2009 after 10 years as Willard’s wrestling coach after the hazing allegations emerged.

The Mansfield News-Journal, the latest to report Fox’s lawsuit, filed in November, was too discreet to describe the allegations. But the Sandusky Register was less circumspect in October in a story about the sentencing of two of the three wrestlers who plead guilty to disorderly conduct in relation to the hazing:

“I am sorry I am involved in the mess that’s still going on,” the junior said. “I lost a great friend and a wrestling partner. I want you to know I did not realize you were being hurt or felt the way you did.”

The junior said in January he held the freshman down on school property while another teammate grabbed the boy’s testicles through his shorts and then pushed his fingers through the back fabric of his shorts into the boy’s rectum.

He then pulled the freshman’s shorts down when he stood up.

The junior said he would not have pinned the freshman down if he knew such depraved acts were to come.

Defense attorney Peter McGory said the incident was “life-altering,” and his client learned an important lesson about horseplay.

McGory said his client was prepared to make amends, but he urged the court not to forbid him from wrestling. McGory said the junior plans to attend college on a sports scholarships.

Judge Meyer denied the request. …

Weeks before the freshman wrestler was held down and mistreated, the senior [the second defendant] sat naked on the boy’s chest in the locker room area and put his genitals near the boy’s face.

As he did this, another teammate snapped a photograph.

Not long after pleading guilty in this incident, the senior was reprimanded by officials for his antics at football camp, which included sticking a phone receiver in a pair of Speedo underwear he was wearing.

The attorney for the senior also urged the court not to suspend his client from sports.

But unlike in the junior’s case, the attorney’s arguments convinced the judge.

Given the descriptions, what comes to mind is not disorderly conduct. It’s rape, rape done by horny high school boys too filled with self-hate, a self-hate that grew from a lifetime of coaches, parents and community definitions of he-manliness, for their homosexual urges to act out in remotely healthy way. And I know that’s an insult to self-hating gays who don’t act out by forcibly sticking their fingers up men’s rectums.

The judge’s sentence of community service, mental health evaluations and letters of apology seems laughably small given the crime, but no prosecutor is going to try a hazing case as rape. The community outcry is already great just for holding athletes just a little bit accountable. When a star wrestler in Colorado last year was indicted on hazing-related charges, most of the comments to the local newspaper about the case were in support of the wrestler.

At least the judge (who accepted a guilty plea deal that included dropping assault charges) did more than the coach, who just made his wrestlers run laps. Fox claims the victimized wrestler didn’t tell him enough, and that it’s unfair his family would badmouth him. From the Mansfield newspaper:

[Attorney David] Firestine said Fox’s response to the incident was based on information provided by the victimized wrestler. He said Fox would have acted differently if presented with more details.

“Whether it was horseplay or hazing is still to be known,” Firestine said. “(Fox) had no opportunity to deal with the facts as presented to everyone else.”

Horseplay or hazing, still to be known? After three of wrestlers were sentenced? Unless horses play by grabbing each other’s balls and/or sticking hooves up rectums, it seems pretty clear at this point it was hazing. If Fox thinks he’s permanently scarred by what happened, at least he’s not reminded every time he, say, wipes.

There are a lot of hazing experts who have done a great job trying to get people to take the issue seriously, but I’m really wondering, at least among men, whether the issue is desire to exert power over others, or whether the issue really is a bunch of closest queens who can’t bring themselves to do anything they feel doesn’t befit a manly king.

Maybe in the course of their mental health assessment, these wrestlers might confront their greatest fear: that just because you’re sticking your fingers up another guy’s rectum does, in fact, mean you’re some kinda fuckin’ homo.

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Written by rkcookjr

January 10, 2010 at 11:00 pm