Athletes discuss hazing at UVM

A college athlete should expect to feel safe both on and off the field, however many student athletes do not.

Members of college sports teams can often face hazing or bullying when new to the team.

“Back when I was younger [middle school] that’s where bullying was very obvious. In college, I haven’t seen it really, at all,” said sophomore Jackson McNally, club rugby member. “We’re all there to progress, we’re all there to play the sport.”

Hazing at the professional level may include physical and emotional trauma that begins at an earlier age, sports psychologist Evan Katz said.

This is the hazing that many players on professional teams and college teams participate in.

He said a factor in the hazing phenomenon is insecurity.

“To become secure, they will wield the power and control,” Katz said.

UVM is not immune to some of these problems.

The UVM men’s hockey team faced hazing allegations and a lawsuit in 1999 when first-year Corey LaTulippe, claimed he and other new players had been hazed by teammates, according to an Attorneys General Report in 2000.

Junior Jack Leclerc said that things at UVM have changed in recent years.

“A big part of the reason I love playing at UVM is I got to make such great friends,” Leclerc said. “There is absolutely no bullying on our team.”

He said that members of the club basketball team are just trying to play the sport at a competitive level.

Katz’s book, “Inside the Mind of an Angry Man,” looks at the reasoning behind hazing in sports.

Katz said that professional athletes begin bullying others because of their “star status.”

“The reason they do it is because they can,” he said.

Although Katz said that hazing and bullying can happen on all levels, sophomore Alex Romac said the atmosphere on the club soccer is very relaxed.

“There really isn’t any negativity towards younger players. Last year the seniors did nothing but go out of their way to help us out and show us a good time,” Romac said.