Major League Baseball is instituting a new hazing policy as part of its collective bargaining agreement (CBA), and some players are reacting with backlash.
The practice of rookie initiation, or hazing, has been around baseball for years, and costumes are usually included in the process. Costumes tend to vary, but it has not been uncommon for teams to have their young players dress as women, with examples including women’s gymnastics uniforms, Hooters outfits, and more.
Restrictions in the CBA will limit that practice, however, as new policies have been instituted. Via the AP, the new labor deal prevents teams from “dressing up as women or wearing costumes that may be offensive to individuals based on their race, sex, nationality, age, sexual orientation, gender identity or other characteristic.”
To be clear, initiation through other means is still permitted by MLB, but it is obvious that the sport wants to put an end to costumes that can be viewed as harsh and demeaning stereotypes. Some, however, are upset with the new policy, as the AP found when it talked to Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim closer Huston Street and a few other players:
The Los Angeles Angels closer, like many players expressing their views Tuesday, disagrees with Major League Baseball’s ban on the hazing ritual of dressing up rookies in costumes that could be considered offensive, including women’s outfits.
“An effort to show our childlike spirit, or humble ourselves in wearing something funny as a team building moment, is now gone,” Street wrote in an email to The Associated Press, “but rest assured some other ritual will rise, will be kept far more secret and hopefully it’s as safe and harmless as uncomfortable clothes.”
Baseball owners and players ratified their five-year labor contract Tuesday, which contains a new Anti-Hazing and Anti-Bullying Policy formulated by management, rules the union agreed not to contest.
New York Mets rookie outfielder Brandon Nimmo was among the last group to participate this past season. In September, he had to wear a wig and dress in the style of the 1992 movie “A League of Their Own” while fetching coffee and doughnuts in Philadelphia.
“I guess I’m sad to see that go. I’m glad that I got to partake in it last year. Wouldn’t trade that,” Nimmo said at the team’s Citi Field holiday party. “I felt like it just kind of brought the team closer together, let’s have a little fun together.”
Not all players feel that way, however. Texas Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus in particular emphasized that times are changing, which prompts the decision from MLB. More from SportsDay:
“Times change; people change,” shortstop Elvis Andrus said. “We have to change. The good thing is the (attention to) bullying. You never want to have anyone feel like they’re being bullied.”
The policy takes effect for the 2017 season.