The new collective bargaining agreement between baseball owners and the player’s union has an interesting new wrinkle. It reportedly contains a section that will ban players from engaging in any embarrassing or sexist rookie hazing, which in recent years has often seen first-year players forced to dress up as women.
You’ve probably seen the pictures of some of baseball’s young stars dressed up as Wonder Woman, Lady Gaga, or Disney princesses. All of that is out, starting next year. Major League Baseball is implementing a new policy, known as the Anti-Hazing and Anti-Bullying Policy, that is expected to be ratified along with the new CBA on Tuesday.
The Associated Press obtained a copy of the policy, and it plainly spells out what isn’t allowed. It prohibits “requiring, coercing or encouraging” players from “dressing up as women or wearing costumes that may be offensive to individuals based on their race, sex, nationality, age, sexual orientation, gender identify or other characteristic.” It also includes a section about not forcing rookies to unwillingly consume drugs or alcohol in a hazing or initiation ceremony.
MLB Vice President Paul Mifsud said that it was a necessary change to reflect the current changes in society: “In light of social media, which in our view sort of unfortunately publicized a lot of the dressing up of the players … those kind of things which in our view were insensitive and potentially offensive to a number of groups.”
“There’s lots of pictures of baseball players dressed up as Disney princesses,” he added.
“Although it hasn’t happened, you could sort of see how like someone might even dress up in black face and say, ‘Oh, no, we were just dressing up,'” Misfud said. “We’ve also understood that a number of players have complained about it.”
It’s not an outright ban on giving rookies a hard time, though. Costumes like superheroes, ketchup bottles (Madison Bumgarner), or Gumby (Giancarlo Stanton) would still be allowed. A paragraph near the end of the policy specifically allows for some sort of rookie initiation to continue, as long as it’s not offensive or bullying.
The purpose of this policy is not to prohibit all traditions regarding rookies or players, but rather to prohibit conduct that may cause players physical anguish or harm, may be offensive to some players, club staff or fans, or are distracting to the operation of the club or MLB.