Los Angeles Lakers Encourage Sexist Hazing
One of the popular media narratives surrounding the 2013 Miami Dolphins hazing scandal was that, moving forward, American professional sports teams would take notice of hazing and seek to stop it. Unfortunately, as we’ve noted before, this has not been the case. In fact, numerous NFL and MLB players have experienced hazing in the months since Richie Incognito was suspended and the Ted Wells report was published.
Several first-year NBA players, like their counterparts in the NFL and MLB, have also experienced hazing this season. In October, the Golden State Warriors forced first year players Aaron Craft, James Michael McAdoo, and Mitchell Watt to dress up in embarrassing outfits and sing songs at half court during an open practice. Utah Jazz shooting guard Rodney Hood’s teammates have required him to wear a pink backpack with characters from the Disney movie “Frozen” at various times during this year. The 76ers wrapped JaKarr Sampson’s truck in aluminum foil. All of these incidents are occurring despite the fact that the NBA sent out an anti-hazing memo in 2013. Change, apparently, has been short lived.
Perhaps the most flagrant violators of the NBA memo this season have been the Los Angeles Lakers, who are forcing rookies Tarik Black and Jordan Clarkson to wear pink backpacks to all road games and bring baby dolls to all home games. Lakers coach Byron Scott, who encouraged similar hazing practices as coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers, has stated that he will fine Black and Clarkson if they do not continue to participate for the remainder of the season.
Without a doubt, these hazing practices are problematic and, at their core, sexist, but many media outlets have described them as “fun” or “spirit lifting.” Beth Greenfield, senior writer for Yahoo! Parenting, responded to such articles writing, “I’m actually not finding it funny, because of the subtle yet dangerously outdated message it sends: that being forced to act like a “girl” or a “sissy” – or a caretaker! – makes for seriously embarrassing punishment.” Michael Kasdan, senior sports editor of the Good Men Project also has commented, “The 1950’s called. They want their ‘hazing’ idea back…[we] do a disservice to our boys (and to men and women) when we send messages to them that reinforce antiquated notions of gender norms or poke fun at certain behaviors as being girly or sissy. And that’s what’s going on here with the Lakers. It’s immature and its silly, and it has an impact. Taking care of your child, being a dad, that’s the highest form of being a man. True veteran mentors on the Lakers should be teaching these rookies that.”