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Across the Threshold: A Comparative Analysis of Communitas and Rites of Passage in Sport Hazing and Initiations

Keywords: sport , hazing , communitas , rites of passage , abuse , cohesion.

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Abstract:

Hazing rituals and ceremonies have been described in traditional,historical world cultures, junior and high school, the military, private schools, paramilitary organizations, fraternities and sororities, as well as sport (Allan and Madden 2008; Bryshun and Young 1999; Campo, Poulos, and Sipple 2005; Fields, Collins, and Comstock 2010; Johnson 2000, 2009; Linhares de Albuquerque and Paes-Machado 2004; Nuwer 1999; Winslow 1999; Zacharda 2009). Student athletes often endure hazing practices with 80% of NCAA athletes reporting some form of initiation (Hoover 1999) in exchange for membership affiliation. This qualitative study compared the similarities and deviationsbetween contemporary initiations and historical traditions defining both the importance of cultures to establish “Rites of Passage” membership gateways and metamorphoses from nonmember to group. Results indicated that despite often abusive hazing ceremonies in sport, marked by hierarchies, power imbalances, and, at times, criminal behaviour, there still exists a demand for an entry ritual by the rookie contingency to mark their membership and identity within theteam structure. Hazing traditions continue in the belief in what Turner (1986)describes as Communitas, despite indications from participants that hazing fractured relationships on the team — a marked contradiction of Communitas.

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