From the Sidelines: The Role of the Coach in Affecting Team Unity and Cohesion in Place of Hazing Traditions

Jay Johnson
2009 Journal of Coaching Education  
This paper is derived from a qualitative study that examined the effects of orientation ceremonies as a replacement for traditional hazing in university sport. The study sought to explore the efficacy of alternative orientation activities that included cooperative games, purposeful team building activities, and informal interaction with the coach. Researchers concluded that, in many instances, the new orientation practice was found to be an effective replacement for traditional forms of entry
more » ... al forms of entry rituals, as the former created a deeper sense of cohesion, forging a stronger bond among players and coaches who opted to participate. to join a college athletic team. These projections are from a weighted sample size of 2,027 respondents by gender and division of athletics. Of the group who experienced hazing, one in five was subjected to unacceptable and potentially illegal hazing; including being kidnapped, beaten, tied up or abandoned (Hoover & Pollard, 1999) . Some of these individuals were forced to commit crimes, destroy property, make prank phone calls or harass others. Half were required to participate in drinking contests or alcoholrelated games. Women were more likely to be involved in alcohol-related initiations than other forms of hazing. Two-thirds were subjected to humiliating hazing, such as being yelled at, sworn at, forced to wear embarrassing clothing, or forced to deprive themselves of sleep, food or personal hygiene (Hoover & Pollard, 1999) . Of note is the fact that only one in five participated exclusively in positive initiations, such as camping trips or ropes courses. More recently, a national study which involved survey responses from 11,482 respondents from 53 campuses across the United States, and over 300 interviews of students and staff from multiple campus organizations and populations, confirmed many of the same findings from the Alfred University study, which indicated that over 55% of the population experienced hazing and, of note, 95% did not report their hazing experiences to campus officials. Most were only exposed to cursory "hazing is not to be tolerated" prevention efforts, while 9 out of 10 students who experienced hazing behaviors, did not consider themselves to be hazed (Allan & Madden, 2008) . "He told us what it was about and why we were going, but he is not really a sit down guy [communicative], who would hype something, he is pretty straight forward which for me is fine, but for a lot of guys he doesn't come across as much of a communicator. Most guys are 18 and need a lot more guidance; they are trying to absorb that." (Dimitri) Both Dimitri and Ted felt that, given the mood, stature and dynamic of the team, enhanced communication from coach to athlete would be beneficial, especially concerning a vital program like an orientation weekend. In fact, the absence of this information caused resentment and some ill feelings amongst the participants prior to the activity. Here, Simone, a coach, acknowledges the importance of being proactive by first denoting the importance of team dynamics and communication, and secondly incorporating it into her style of imparting information and communicating with her players. "I took an active role in making everyone feel equal and that they had value, not only to me, but to the team. It is also the team that makes new members feel this way and try to encourage people to feel a part of the team. We are fairly good at not judging other people. They are fairly good at realizing that you can't make judgments on people's decisions." (Simone, coach 3)
doi:10.1123/jce.2.1.45 fatcat:g3lqydmyprcpddforjn6aciaai