Hazing always hazardous, time to stop it!

It was very tempting this past two weeks to simply re-run  editorials from Sept. 20 and 27, 2000. The topic then was a Neepawa Natives hockey team rookie party (or hazing) that went totally out of control. Back in 2000, a player was injured and hospitalized overnight. Then, as now, the hazing was not sanctioned. The team reacted quickly and traded a number of players. No one involved with the team in 2000 officially sanctioned the hazing. Certainly no one involved with the team today sanctioned the 2011 version of the hazing either.
What hasn’t changed though is that some people in the hockey world seem to think that hazing is still OK, at least to some degree. It’s not. It wasn’t in 2000, it isn’t acceptable today. A lot of phrases have been heard such as, “It happens all the time” and, “Worse happened to me.” Or one will hear, “What happens in the dressing room stays in the dressing room.” None of these phrases reflects acceptable activities in the sports world.
To the credit of the Neepawa Natives organization, they have tried very hard over the years to eliminate not only hazing but a lot of other unacceptable activities that have lingered in the world of hockey. Most of the players have conducted themselves in a very good fashion over the years and it has been in part due to high standards set by the local team.
But stating standards and enforcing standards are two different things. It’s nigh unto impossible to always have a person in a supervisory role with a team but it seems that’s what may be required to avoid a future situation of this nature.
It’s good that in this case, a young man and his family chose to come forward. Similar incidents have been covered up in the past. How much psychological or other damage has been done over the years is impossible to measure but it’s certain it’s been significant. In this case, the hazing details have been brought out in excruciating detail. More may yet come out as the league, after conducting an inquiry of their own, appointed a special investigator.
Hopefully the stupidity, the lunacy, the ugliness of hazing will be eliminated in our society. I’m not holding my breath but we can always hope. It certainly won’t be eliminated, or even reduced, if people stay silent or are bullied into silence.
As for Neepawa’s reputation, there’s some goods news as well. While Neepawa’s reputation took a hit, the majority of the negative comments came from anonymous bloggers. And there’s been dozens of anonymous blog comments. Anonymous bloggers are no better than hazers. It’s all bullying. However, some of the actual calls that we have been getting have been  encouraging because people who know Neepawa and know how we do things here also know that we do our best to operate a good, clean and reputable community. Neepawa has been a pretty good place, overall, even for hockey players to come and play. That there’s lots of work to do goes without saying but to listen to the anonymous naysayers is a waste of time.
Hopefully the Neepawa Natives hockey team can survive and thrive. If not, then the community will move on. To survive, the team needs to accept more community input, attract more fans and make more money. Some wins would be nice too. There’s lots more the team and the board could and should do to improve the team’s position. We’ll see if all that happens.
In the intervening time, it’s important to remember that speaking up against injustice is always a good thing 

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kwaddell@kenwaddell.ca This is a Sunrize Group internet solution (204)226-2247