These incidents do not occur in a vacuum. Particularly revealing are athletes' parents response to the University sanctions and media coverage.
Carleton University suspended its women’s soccer team on Friday after a rookie initiation party ended with a player being taken to the hospital by ambulance following excessive drinking.
It is believed that a team party last Sunday saw one player so incoherent from alcohol that an ambulance took her to the hospital.
One father of a rookie player suggested yesterday that the situation was being "really overblown." And a mother, who didn't want her name used out of respect for her daughter, a return player who went through a similar rookie party, suggested this was a case of someone drinking too much - not a hazing. "I know most of the girls on the team. I am just disappointed that their best intentions for team bonding have been misconstrued."D-E-N-I-A-L, anyone?
Athletes are particularly vulnerable to peer pressure since the acceptance and admiration of team members is a powerful motivator for team success. As well, individuals who are blessed with such talents and skills tend to push the boundaries of their bodies' physical strength and abilities.
Patrick Swayze, who died two weeks ago and who had waged a life-long battle against substance abuse, observed: "My big regret is the physical damage I've done to my body. I can do almost anything physically and I used to believe I was invincible, breaking bones over and over, playing football, doing gymnastics, diving, ballet, doing my own stunts, kick boxing, staging fights ... It all seems a little stupid to me now."