Carleton women's soccer program suspended over hazing incident

It's quite the day for disciplinary stories. Carleton has suspended its women's soccer team over a hazing incident that involved copious amount of alcohol. The team will not play against U of T and Ryerson this weekend, presumably forfeiting those games, and will not take the field again until the university's ongoing investigation is finished.

This could be a big scandal. There surely are hazing incidents I'm unaware of, but the last time I can remember an entire team being suspended was in 2005 when McGill forfeited its football season. Queen's Journal sports editors of the time James Bradshaw and Dan Robson ran an excellent piece on the matter, looking at the wider issue of hazing. Of course, that also wound up being the year featuring the Windsor Spitfires' hazing scandal and the fight between Steve Downie and Akim Aliu. The two incidents, coming so close together, turned into a big national story and put a spotlight on hazing in sports. Over time, that spotlight's dimmed, but this story may renew it.

However, don't assume that the Carleton team did anything differently than most sports teams. The issue is that "hazing" is often very loosely defined, and there's a fine line between the rookie rituals that most sports teams have and what may constitute "hazing." These also go beyond just sports or particular universities; see this feature by Monica Heisey on the practices that have taken place during Queen's orientation week over the years for an example.

It's tough to draw a line in the sand against hazing. For one thing, most sports teams are very tight-knit groups, so it's difficult for an outsider to get accurate information on what really goes on. For another, the general issue that seems to be at play in defining hazing versus rookie rituals is if players consent to the activities, but it must be tough for a rookie trying to gain acceptance with a team to resist peer pressure. Finally, it seems that most of the responses to hazing incidents that become publicized involve suspending the team; how many athletes would want to throw away a year of their career (and the careers of their friends) by going to athletic officials or the media just because they felt uncomfortable about something?

The future of the Carleton women's soccer program is rather cloudy at the moment, but it's impossible to predict exactly what will happen on the basis of the extremely limited information released so far. The competitive effects for the rest of the OUA could be interesting, though. The Ravens have played five games so far, winning twice, losing twice and drawing once. They sit fourth in the OUA East with seven points.

Their victories came against Ryerson and RMC, and their draw came against Nipissing. If the Carleton program is suspended for the rest of the season, as seems likely, it will be interesting to see if those results are nullified. From a competitive standpoint, that would seem to be the fair thing to do, as every other team will likely gain full points from Carleton's forfeits. However, it's not as if Carleton fradulently gained those victories or was using an ineligible player (the usual reason for forfeits); their suspension is from their own university, not the OUA. Regardless of what's decided, it will be an interesting situation to follow.

(Cross-posted to Sporting Madness)

Carleton soccer team suspended over hazing incident (Aedan Helmer, Sun Media)
Carleton suspends entire women's soccer team over 'rookie initiation' (Ottawa Citizen)
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  1. There was an incident at Carleton several years ago where the men's rugby team was accused of directing sexist remarks or using harassing language towards women.
    As I recall, the team lost its varsity status because of it.
    These types of incidents are always disappointing because those involved who should know better make very poor decisions that damage their reputation and that of the school.
    Given how Carleton disciplined the rugby team, I expect the final verdict will be pretty harsh.

  2. One player was taken to hospital. Early reports say alcohol poisoning. A couple of other players went to the coach and complained about hazing. The Carleton AD decided to suspend the team for two games . They will use that time to investigate the incident further and see if more actions need to be taken.

  3. If there isn't a policy already in existence, then the CIS, IMO, should create a no tolerance edict towards hazing, no matter how "mild" the hazing ritual may be.
    Subjecting freshmen to such rituals under the excuse of "team bonding" is no longer acceptable, not that it ever should have been acceptable in the first place.
    What is especially disturbing to me is the apparent abuse of alcohol in this particular case.
    Hopefully the hospitalized player will make a full recovery but that doesn't change the fact that her very life may have been endangered by this idiotic prank.
    It's time once and for all for this kind of nonsense to be abolished from all amateur sport.

  4. What i really don't get is abuse of drinking is a non no in sports.Yet its happens daily with high school kids and university kids yet people don't get nearly as up set.If you ban partying at college sports level etc then you have to ban all partys.Everyone needs to geta grip was there hazing maybe was it as bad as some seem to think it could be.It is aslo possible people need to clam down untill all the facts are out.

  5. This article is a joke; it sensationalizes and hypothesizes without sufficient facts.

    Shame on you Andrew Bucholtz, who describes himself as being "interested in the sorts of stories that go beyond just games and sports results." Well congratulations, you managed to fabricate one in the name of 'journalism', if one could consider the verbal diarrhea and pathetically giandiose writing above journalism.

    Fred Smith

  6. Mr. Smith,

    So the Carleton team was not suspended after a drinking party where a student required hospitalization, as was reported by the Ottawa Citizen and Ottawa Sun?

    Sounds like you have one hell of a scoop.

  7. Carleton announced the suspension lifted today. Local derby is Wednesday.

    No details of what happened announced, the only comment was there will be no more comment. And yes, there is good dirt here if anyone wants to find it.

  8. The Ottawa media couldn't flip over the right rock to find out why Dany Heatley wanted to be traded ... so this mystery might not get solved, either.

    I quote Henry Kissinger, "Why are university politics so vicious? Because the stakes are so low."

  9. Good question ... was the player taken to hospital a minor? Good chance she was.

  10. The player was not a minor, she was of age.

  11. The player was not a minor and she CHOSE to purchase her own alcohol. Other rookies were no intoxicated, hazed or humiliated. Players did not "complain" to the coach about hazing. Perhaps the mother should be more concerned with her daughter's DECISION to purchase and comsume alcohol. It could be said that Carleton administration "jumped the gun" with their actions and after investigating the so-called incident have found the truth which may be why the team cannot speak on the matter.

  12. Fair enough, but on our end, we trust users to be honest but anonymous comments are a gray area, you understand. I was not there, were you?

    A follow-up is posted. I don't take a position on whether the punishment was fitting.

    It bears noting Carleton University has had two major news stories involving student safety in the past two years. One involved the suicide of an 18-year-old student (the family questioned why the school did not tell them she was on meds) and the other involved a lawsuit from a young woman who was sexually assaulted late at night. (It was settled out of court.)

    Those were serious real-life situations. It might explain any gun-jumping on the admin's part.