Joining a University sports team can be one of the most enjoyable experiences a student can have during their three years as an undergraduate. Wednesday nights out at your student union almost becomes a religious ritual and the build-up to varsity is arguably the most widely-talked about event during the year.
It’s a chance for rugby players to meet like-minded meat heads who love a good old pint of British ale while watching England take on Wales in the Six Nations, or for basketball fanatics to indulge into conversation about who truly is better, Jordan or James?
In order for you to truly become a vital member of your chosen sports club, however, you must successfully overcome an initiation ceremony, or ‘hazing’ as it is referred to across the pond.
Essential or embarrassing?
Initiation ceremonies can be used as a tool for team-building; it’s a chance for new arrivals to socialise with the old guard and become friendly on a first-name basis.
In modern times, however, student initiations have become notorious for their excessive, degrading nature, where members are forced to drink ‘dirty’ pints filled with toxic substances and are met with a rapturous round of applause for throwing up.
As an affluent tennis player growing up, I was twice obliged to take part in an initiation ceremony. My first was during a county cup weekend but being under the legal drinking age we were instead required to perform a song of our own choice in front of other team members.
My rendition of Dizzee Rascal’s ‘Stand Up Tall’ was deemed to be the best performance of the year and I subsequently felt a sense of closeness with my team mates. My second, at University, involved copious amounts of alcohol, a hugely anticipated hangover, and a night out that couldn’t be remembered, leaving me no closer to my new ‘friends.’
It doesn’t take a mad adventure into the darkest realm of the internet to find some of the more grotesque stories of student initiations. In 2008, members of Gloucester University were paraded down the road with bags over their heads by an older member wearing a Nazi outfit.
In the same year, a man from Exeter University drank himself to death after participating in the alternative game of pub golf, and just this week, the Huffington Post reported a story about two female twins leaving the University of Mexico after one ended up in hospital after heavy consumptions of alcohol during her football initiation.
A renowned status?
If you are successful during your initiation, managing to keep down the concoction of animal biscuits, raw egg whites and Sambuca shots whilst somehow managing to string a sentence together in order to exchange phone numbers with the hockey captain, you will quickly become one of the finer members of the sports team.
Your initiation story will spread across the University quicker than Fresher’s Flu and your celebrity status amongst your peers will have been established – you will have achieved the status of a University lad. Your ability to drink may even leave you with a better chance of ensuring a place in the first team the following year, regardless of your sporting ability.
Initiations are a way in which many sports teams promote vile excessive drinking culture to their new recruits. With a hint of freedom after moving away from their parents, students are led astray by what they deem to be good role models, thrown into a culture that has become prominent in University life.
Alcohol can be used as a great tool for socialising. It can help relax you and rids your mind of all anxious thoughts, but there is nothing social, friendly or inviting about some of these utterly vile tasks that are supposedly a way into sporting teams.
What do you think? Have you ever had to do a strange initiation? Are they really necessary? Have your say in the comments section below.