Lancer athletes piling onto balloons.Lancer athletes strategize in a team-building exercise to predict how many people they can pile on balloons without popping any.

Coaches and athletes primed to tackle hazing

Initiation rituals that involve harassment or humiliation aren’t just dangerous, they’re counter-productive, and coaches and team leaders should work to eliminate them, presenters told participants in an anti-hazing workshop Wednesday at the University of Windsor.

Almost 70 Lancer athletes, coaches and staff attended “Transforming Team Bonding to a Safe and Positive Experience,” in the Human Kinetics Building. The presentation, by UWindsor kinesiology professor emeritus Margery Holman and professor Jay Johnson of the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Kinesiology and Recreation Management, described the traditions, risks and gendered nature of hazing.

“We had them engage in some alternative activities aimed at creating a positive team bonding experience for all,” says Dr. Holman. “The intention is that these team leaders will share the information with their teammates to create new traditions.”

She says that hazing rituals can be humiliating and create resentments that hinder trust and cooperation between teammates: “Besides the emotional damage, it’s just plain counter-productive, dividing rather than uniting teams.”

Holman says the message was well-received.

“The comments from the students were very positive, as were those of the coaches,” she says. “We got some good insights in their feedback. It is a topic about which most are reluctant to talk.”

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