Making Rookies Wear Girly Backpacks Is Child's Play

phillies junior reliever pink hello kitty backpack feather boaFor many, a gig in pro sports seems like a dream come true. Playing a game for a sweet salary, the fame, the cheering crowds -- what's not to love? Well, turns out, in some ways, being a pro athlete means being stuck in high school FOREVER! Or, at least, when you first make the team. The New York Times shed some light on the subject of hazing in professional baseball yesterday, and it's kinda crazy, but even star baseball rookies have to contend with initiation rituals that seem more befitting of a freshman in high school.

The latest kooky hazing trend, which has spread its way like a virus through lots of major league teams, has rookie relief pitchers carrying gear and snacks for the rest of the bullpen in brightly colored backpacks, usually the kind toted by little girls. Think pink and emblazoned with cutesy cartoons. The most junior reliever for the Philadelphia Phillies is forced to wear both a Hello Kitty pack and a pink feather boa (as pictured here). Ha, WOW.

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Yeah, it's totally funny, but at the same time, come on -- aren't these guys supposed to act like, err, grown-ups? Think about it. If this was happening -- and I'm sure forms of it do happen -- on high school teams, wouldn't it be considered bullying? How is it any different when it's adults involved?

Interestingly, the backpack trend isn't the only hazing ritual in pro sports by FAR! Consider these gems:

  • The New York Yankees regularly make their rookies dress up in costume, usually during autograph sessions, so fans can make fun of them, too! They've dressed up as anything from characters from The Wizard of Oz to sexy cheerleaders.
  • The San Fran '49ers QB Joe Montana used to hide rookies' bicycles at training camp. But that's not all. He'd put them in the highest tree, then watch them try to find it. Awww, poor guys!
  • The San Diego Chargers' first round draft pick has to take out the rest of the team for a nice dinner. They pick the fanciest, most expensive restaurant in town and then stick the rookie with the bill. One player had to fork over $14K, and that was considered "cheap." OMG!

I get that some of these hazing tactics are meant to give newbies a dose of humility and may be all in good fun. Maybe it has something to do with paying your dues before getting to say you're part of an elite association? But some of these tactics are just downright cruel, childish, immature, and unnecessary. All I'm saying is ... by the time you get to the big leagues, there's got to be a better way to "welcome" a rookie than acting like a bunch of jerky little kids. 

What do you think of hazing in pro sports?


Image via Jamie Sabau/Getty

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