The desire to achieve social acceptance is an unwaveringly corrupt force among teenagers and young adults. Especially in regards to sports teams, people will do anything to fit in. Older players exploit the social interests of the younger players through hazing: a ritualistic initiation test or task that involves harassment, abuse, or humiliation. In the article, “Beyond the Locker Room: Campus Bars and College Athletics” by Timothy Curry, detrimental types of male bonding are explained. Many of these involve the sexual mistreatment of women to appeal to the entire team’s satisfaction. Curry’s main source is Marcello, a 5-year collegiate athlete whom he interviewed for an inside take on the effects of team bonding and social competition. Curry argues that campus bars and drinking are the primary agents in facilitating aggression and sexual misconduct by male athletes.
Curry begins his article by introducing previous research conducted on male bonding in locker rooms. The male bonding included an abundance of conversational insults and sexual innuendo towards women: a possible testament to more appalling actions toward females. Among the team members, was a group called the Dark Side, a rebellious faction that would take part in various criminal enterprises just so they would have a story to tell the following day. The group was led by King, a transfer who introduced a notorious mentality, one that encouraged team and university rule breaking. The resulting stories were narrated the next day in the locker room to set the standard for the other athletes. Close-calls were nicknamed MacGyver – “named after the television character who was forever escaping from seemingly impossible situations”. It is surprising that these athletes had the audacity to actually go out and commit crimes with no regard for their own safety, simply for the good of a story. The sole motivation and ultimate goal was to have a story to rival the set standard of previous athletes, which served to enhance the competition between them. Athletes were not judged and accepted based on character, but on incompetent acts of transgression. The main subjects of these stories were mostly “getting into fights and screwing bimbos”, which were induced by a common forerunner: the campus bar (Curry, 1998).
Campus bars were the main place where athletes would go to get wasted and make poor decisions. The quest for social acceptance was quickly brought to light at the bar. Athletes were given special attention and privileges, such as free or cheap drinks, because bartenders assumed that the athletes would attract more business. “Marcello indicated that the going rate was seven beers for a dollar” (Curry, 1998). One example was a combination of seven mixed drinks, known as “Doctor Peppers – a brew consisting of a 12-oz beer, an ounce of amaretto, and a shot of 151 proof hard liquor” (Curry, 1998). The athlete would down as many as he could and challenge the other athletes to top him, and so the competition began. Along with the desire to impress one’s fellow teammates, came the desire to “own” the bar. Marcello asserted that a fighter would pick a person out of the crowd simply because of his physical appearance and beat him. The other teammates would join in or attempt to stop him. The victim of the fight was then kicked out because it interfered with business, and the athletes continued to drink. Not only did the bar supply athletes with cheap drinks to get drunk, but it encouraged fighting by ignoring that the athletes were even involved. By ignoring the escapades of the athletes, campus bartenders, in a sense, condoned the acts of violence. They were economically motivated and allowed these misbehaviors to occur as a result.
Campus bars also functioned as a prime location for sexual aggression. The excessive amount of drinking that took place guaranteed women that would be easily taken advantage of. These women were known as bimbos. One athlete would take a woman back to her apartment and have sex with her. The rest of the athletes would watch from a skylight or hide in the athlete’s room and watch the sexual activity take place – this was referred as a show (Curry, 1998). According to Marcello, “if the woman discovered that the others were watching during the show, she would typically try to escape, and the athlete would try to prevent her from doing so” – this was known as a rodeo (Curry, 1998). The social competition between athletes continued in this respect as the on-looking athletes recorded the amount of time it took the girl to be caught or escape. After the girl had passed out from drinking, the athletes would often partake in a train – the teammates would have consecutive sexual escapades with the female. At the conclusion of this outrageous sexual misconduct, the athletes would dispose of the girl to absolve the chance of a long term relationship (Curry, 1998). These documented actions of these athletes are appalling because they essentially engaged in rape. The most disturbing part is that these athletes only partook in these behaviors to be accepted by the team. It didn’t matter what the rest of society thought of them or that they knew the difference between right and wrong, it was a sole desire to be accepted by the team.
Curry asserted that drinking and campus bars were the main causes of the belligerence and sexual transgression that male athletes exhibited. The aspiration for social acceptance began in the locker room, but was exemplified at the campus bars. Once inside the bar, athletes were given special drinking privileges and encouraged to attract more drinkers. The atmosphere of the bar fueled the fire for their constant competition through drinking, fighting, and deceiving girls. The campus bars catalyzed the athlete’s behavior because it added to the stereotypical “untouchability” of athletes under the law. In the minds of these athletes, the campus bar was seen as a public place, outside the locker room, where normal society existed. If they could get away with these activities in a public place, they must be able to get away with it altogether. Whether it was getting innocent bystanders kicked out of the bar for being “queer”, or having consecutive sex with a girl that had passed out from drinking, the athletes’ behavior was completely unethical. Physical aggression and sexual assault were understood by these athletes as competitive opportunities, rather than illegal offenses.