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Whether a rite of passage or a violation of rights, hazing of any form usually comes loaded with controversy. Five members of the Needham high school soccer team in Massachusetts are being sidelined for some off-the-field antics that involved hazing two freshman members of the team. Specifically, the girls have been accused of blindfolding the freshman and dragging them across the soccer field with dog leashes, according to MSNBC. The Needham soccer players are suspended pending further investigation into the case.
The hazing incident is having repercussions for the high school coach as well. In failing to report the incident right away, the girls soccer coach has been placed on leave. Parents of the suspended players have filed an injunction seeking to allow the girls to play in an important game, but the presiding judge refused to overturn the school's decision.
Beyond a school issue, the state has a law in place that requires all schools to enforce anti-hazing policies. The problem with such a law lies in the definition of hazing, especially in a case like this where the alleged hazing victims are speaking out against their teammates' harsh punishments. The punishments could end up adversely affecting the girls' abilities to get college scholarships.
"I don't see any way those kids can see that what they did was appropriate behavior. Just because it was right way back when doesn't mean it's alright now. What somebody thinks is funny, another may think is bullying. Someone might think teasing, while another might see it as a serious personal insult," said Paul Wetzel, spokesman for the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association.
All hazing is not created equal, however. In addition to looking at the actions of any given incident, the intentions are equally (if not more) important. However, with the tremendous amount of attention bullying has received recently, it's easy to understand the swift response.