How to Recognize, Reduce, and Respond to Hazing

The following information has been provided by SafeSport, a program of The United States Olympic Committee. SafeSport aims to create a healthy, supportive environment for all participants of sports through education, resources and training. The overall goal is to help members of the sports community recognize, reduce and respond to misconduct in sports. For more information, please visit safesport.org.

Being a team member shouldn’t come with additional requirements that get in the way of enjoying sports. Hazing often begins as seemingly benign behavior but can become an issue if allowed to continue. Since hazing often occurs among peers, coaches and staff can send a strong anti-hazing message by creating an environment that encourages individuals to raise concerns or share information. In addition, most states have enacted legislation to discourage hazing and hold those who participate accountable; and these laws can provide additional support for anti-hazing efforts.


Hazing involves any conduct that subjects another person, whether physically, mentally, emotionally or psychologically, to anything that may endanger, abuse, humiliate, degrade or intimidate the person as a condition of joining or being socially accepted by a group, team, or organization. Purported Consent by the person subjected to Hazing is not a defense, regardless of the person’s perceived willingness to cooperate or participate. Examples of Hazing include:

a. Contact acts: Tying, taping or otherwise physically restraining another person; beating, paddling or other forms of physical assault. 
b. Non-contact acts: Requiring or forcing the consumption of alcohol, illegal drugs or other substances, including participation in binge drinking and drinking games; personal servitude; requiring social actions (e.g., wearing inappropriate or provocative clothing) or public displays (e.g., public nudity) that are illegal or meant to draw ridicule; excessive training requirements demanded of only particular individuals on a team that serve no reasonable or productive training purpose; sleep deprivation; otherwise unnecessary schedule disruptions; withholding of water and/or food; restrictions on personal hygiene. 
c. Sexualized acts: Actual or simulated conduct of a sexual nature. 
d. Criminal acts: Any act or conduct that constitutes hazing under applicable federal or state law.


Conduct may not rise to the level of Hazing if it is merely rude (inadvertently saying or doing something hurtful), mean (purposefully saying or doing something hurtful, but not as part of a pattern of behavior), or arising from conflict or struggle between persons who perceive they have incompatible views and/or positions. Hazing does not include professionally accepted coaching methods of skill enhancement, physical conditioning, team building, appropriate discipline, or improved Athlete performance.

Courtesy of The United States Olympic Committee.