And This One Time, You Weren't Supposed To Glorify Hazing

Bleacher Report Analyst ISeptember 29, 2010

HOUSTON - AUGUST 28: Antonio Smith #94 of the Houston Texans and Roy Williams #11 and Dez Bryant of the Dallas Cowboys mug for the camera after the Houston Texans defeated the Dallas Cowboys 23-7 at Reliant Stadium on August 28, 2010 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Bob Levey/Getty Images

“I don’t care what you’ve seen on television. There will be no hazing here. And if you think I am bullshitting you, ask your captain. I will not have my freshmen worried about living on this campus.”

I was in attendance for the first team meeting of the new school year, and our assistant basketball coach started the meeting with that. And in essence, it’s that simple. If you are made aware that there will be obvious harsh (judging by the inflection and tone of the coach) punishments, you are probably less inclined to do it.

And the punishments are very harsh. On most campuses, Hazing results in immediate suspension, as well as a permanent notation on your transcript. If you apply for grad school or your first job, and they ask for a transcript, they will know that you are a coward who had to haze someone to somehow enhance your own machismo.

So at an institutional level, there is a unanimous anti-hazing movement; but there continues to be hazing, which means that someone out there has to be promoting this stuff. And last night I figured out who it was. So I would like to start by saying the following…

Thank you, ESPN, for continuously perpetuating the false necessity for hazing in sports through your ridiculous coverage of the Dallas Cowboys.

Here’s the story: Cowboys’ rookie Dez Bryant refused to carry veteran Roy Williams’ pads to and from practice during training camp. Roy Williams then publicly assured the media that he would “get” Bryant. And Monday night was the apparent “get.”

Bryant was asked by Williams to treat members of the Cowboys’ offense to a steak dinner. Roy Williams then apparently invited the entire defense along too and encouraged everyone to order what they wanted and more. The end result was a $54,896 (no this is not a typo) dinner tab that Dez Bryant was stuck with.

If you think that is funny, clever, or creative, please stop reading this piece right now; because if you think that is funny, clever, or creative you are a sociopath.

I have spent the last two years coming to peace with the fact that I will not make $55,000 probably until my 40s. The average American school teacher makes significantly less than $55,000 per year. I honest to God don’t think I have it in me to spend $55,000 over a five-year period. And someone just got stuck with that for a dinner bill.

Obviously, I think Roy Williams is an idiot. But I’ve always thought Roy Williams was an idiot (and among other things, a wildly overrated wide receiver). But Roy Williams is only part of the problem. ESPN and their notorious history of a locker-room culture deserves a ton of the blame for the way that this story has been perceived.

For starters, why did anyone on planet earth need to know, or furthermore, care about the fact that Dez Bryant didn’t carry Williams’ pads this past summer?

It’s because we have been programmed to think that it wasn’t Williams in the wrong. It was Bryant for not being okay with humiliation. It was on the top of Sportscenter, and it was all over the website: Bryant refuses to carry shoulder pads.

It’s a huge deal that we get the message like that. Because we are a male dominated culture (and judging by ESPN’s sexual assault batting average, they are too), our immediate reaction is “shame on Dez Bryant for being a little bitch,” when it really should be “shame on Roy Williams for hitting a near Roger Clemens mark on the egomaniacal prick scale.”

And it made more sense to me when I turned on my television this morning and the $55,000 bill was in the top block of Sportscenter. And not only that, but in a 12-hour period, where three different MLB teams cinched playoff berths, one of the “top story” links read “Payback for Bryant.”

Why is it payback? He didn’t want to carry your shoulder pads, so you robbed him of $55,000, and that’s payback? And on top of that, you celebrate it with that headline, as if he got what was coming to him?

Because here’s the truth: Our society is desperately trying to move away from the culture of hazing. And as subtle as it is, this type of programming keeps us in the paradigm.