Here's what you need to bring if you go to the annual Bellaire High School girls' freshmen volleyball team sleepover: Whipped cream, chocolate pudding, a plastic tarp and plenty of Saran Wrap. No, you sick bastard, not for any immoral purposes, but because it's a tradition for new team members.
The incoming athletes' arms are bound with the plastic and told to slide around on the spray-food-soaked tarp. Hair Balls received an anonymous letter and photos from a "concerned parent" who's worried that this violates HISD's hazing policy.
"...it was swept under the rug by the team," the letter states. "The freshmen were told they had to be there, and the girls were wrapped up in plastic wrap, had their heads covered so they could not see, and put in a van." (Here's a general rule of thumb: van + young girls = something totally legitimate and life-affirming is going to happen.) "These embarrassing pictures of the freshmen were then put on the [I]nternet."
But HISD Spokesman Norm Uhl assures us that this doesn't violate HISD's hazing policy:
"This doesn't seem to fit the definitions in the policy," Uhl said in an e-mail. "In addition, this is not a school-sponsored event." (That last part made us wonder if any hazing would be considered "school-sponsored.")
Uhl also assured us that the event "is supervised by adults," and that "the activity is voluntary and does not have an impact on whether a student makes the team. I'm told that several team members were not able to attend this year due to other obligations."
Those obligations must have been pretty important, because we can't imagine passing up an opportunity to be bound up, covered in a slimy sauce, and made to roll on the ground like a dog in front of a laughing mob.
But Hair Balls spoke with one mother who felt the activity was well-monitored and none of the girls were pressured into doing anything they didn't want to. She also said that the girls who didn't participate weren't ostracized or thrown off the team.
"I felt no pressure that she had to go, and I felt no danger about the whole thing," she said. "....I just don't think of it as a hazing kind of thing."
Fortunately, the awesome thing about crowds is, they're just so right all the time; God bless the good parents of Bellaire for teaching their girls that, in order to signify an achievement in life, they must first debase themselves for the pleasure of others.
But we're sure that none of these girls would be ostracized if they didn't participate. After all, every adult knows that 14- and 15-year-old children have the confidence and maturity to speak up if they don't want to participate in an event that all their peers are involved in, right?
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