An announcement made on Monday by Major League Baseball may rival the impact of the league-wide implementation of PED testing in 2003.
The Associated Press reported, “that baseball hazing ritual of dressing rookies as Wonder Woman, Hooters Girls, and Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders is now banned.”
Yes, political correctness has gone so awry that MLB and the players union found it necessary to provide for an anti-hazing and anti-bullying provision in its new labor contract, expected to be signed by both sides on Tuesday.
Requiring rookies to dress up in female costumes has for years provided entertainment for the teams during the early goings of spring training. It often brings a sense of bonding between rookies and veterans players and apparently serves as an outlet for relieving stress before the rigors of the 162-game season commences.
Unfortunately, however, we can say goodbye to the likes of Bryce Harper donning a U.S. Olympic women’s gymnastics outfit, Mike Trout as Lady Gaga, Manny Machado wearing a ballet tutu, and Houston Astros shortstop Carlos Correa channeling Wonder Woman, because MLB fears they may offend a particular group.
The new league policy states that “requiring, coercing or encouraging” players to “dress up as women or wearing costumes that may be offensive to individuals based on their race, sex, nationality, age, sexual orientation, gender identity or other characteristic,” is now prohibited.
MLB Players Association general counsel Dave Prouty claims “Times have changed. There is certain conduct that we have to be conscious of.” He added, “The important thing for us was to recognize there was a policy but to preserve the players’ rights to challenge the level of discipline and the imposition of discipline.”
MLB vice president Paul Mifsud said that the policy change came about due to the escalation of “social media, which in our view sort of unfortunately publicized a lot of the dressing up of the players … those kinds 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,” Mifsud pointed out.
The MLB will not prohibit all costumes, such as superhero costumes. Other allowed costumes include San Francisco ace Madison Bumgarner portraying a giant ketchup bottle, baseball’s highest-paid player Giancarlo Stanton’s U.S. Olympic men’s water polo team costume, and Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig’s Gumby get-up.
According to the AP, the problem of locker room bullying surfaced in a big way in 2014 when an NFL investigation found that Richie Incognito and two other Miami Dolphins consistently bullied teammate Jonathan Martin over a two-year period starting in 2012. Furthermore, MLB officials said that they reviewed many college anti-hazing policies in developing their latest rules.
“The purpose of this policy is not to prohibit all traditions regarding rookies or players,” the latest policy iteration indicates, “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.”
The ironic take on this tempest in a teapot is that no specific evidence exists of MLB rookies taking objection to the tradition, although there is a mention of some “complaints.” The box score on the new MLB policy appears to be a shutout for political correctness over tradition and harmless hazing rituals. Major League baseball is already pretty dry and boring and it looks like league officials aim to keep it that way.