Via Sports Illustrated:
Former Virginia wide receiver Aidan Howard sued the school last week saying in court documents that the school “fostered a culture of bullying, abuse, harassment, and discrimination.”… teammates … make fun of him because of a learning disability…[Teammates] forced him to fight another player on the team following practice as part of an “initiation.”…forced Howard and the other unnamed player to enter the ring to “flashing lights, loud music and announcement to simulate a ‘prize fight.'”
Up front, not a great look for Virginia. Hazing’s such a tough subject because you get the football hardos who say that it’s a “part of a football team”, which isn’t 100% wrong. And then you have the people who are on the outside looking in that condemn anything surrounding a football team that’s controversial, because football players are an easy target. And they’re not always 100% right.
I promise you that something similar to this has happened in locker rooms across the country, where teammates egg guys on to fight (in high school, one of our coaches once watched a complete locker room fight, only breaking it up when the other guy was clearly losing). That doesn’t make it right, and doesn’t excuse the actions. Because that’s the thing you let slide when it’s two guys with serious beef, and you just want them to hash it out and move forward. Not something that happens to guys that have no issues with each other.
Also shouldn’t happen any further past a high school locker room. You’re a D-1 school in a major conference and you’ve got 0 leaders on a team that realize when hazing’s gone too far? It’s really not hard to recognize when the hazing’s gone too far. Make a guy smell your jock strap? Fine. Even pissing on his clothes, whatever. Disgusting and wrong, but that could be part of the culture nonetheless. Once you step into physical and mental bodily harm, you’ve gone too far. Some guys aren’t built to handle that stuff, and a football team with leaders recognizes that. It’s not PC to say that hazing goes too far, and that Virginia’s team went a little too far here, if the accusations are true.