How is it that so many really intelligent and talented guys still buy into all that I-want-to-be-part-of-the-group neediness? Instead of neediness, I wanted to use the word “crap”, but thought it wouldn’t be all that professional.

The sadistic quality of fraternity hazing has gone on for years. Older brothers torture the younger wannabes just like the older brothers were tortured when they were freshman. If you want to be part of the hallowed group, you’re obligated to put up with it.

Now we’re learning that the same thing goes on in the NFL. Being the most talented athletes in the country, and making millions of dollars, obviously doesn’t change that need to belong. The fact that “more mature” coaches and general managers buy into this culture is obviously part of the problem.

Maybe I’m in the minority calling it a problem, but even in college it seemed ludicrous to let older “brothers” have that kind of sadistic control. I knew I wasn’t cut out to join Kappa Alpha Ridiculous when three guys stormed my dorm room at 3am screaming, “You’re in! You’re going to be a Ridiculous! The fact that I had a chemistry exam the next morning never occurred to anyone except me.

Maybe I made a mistake? If only I had joined, I could have tortured other freshman and really felt like a big man.

Oh, but what about bonding? When the youngsters are tortured by the older, more mature guys the young guys come together as a group. Love, caring and solidarity are achieved. The theory is that the more brutal the torturing, the closer the new class becomes.

That’s the answer, brutality breeds love. WE ARE THE MARINES.

Welcome to a society based on a ridiculous premise.

If you enjoy reading, Inside the Mind of a Psychiatrist, you might also enjoy Dr. Smukler’s novels, Chasing Backwards, a psychological murder mystery, Skin Dance, a mystery, and The Man with a Microphone in his Ear. All are available as paperbacks and eBooks.


  1. A question for the psychiatrist:
    Is there a toughening-up aspect of all this, especially as it pertains to linemen? Bottom line, the difference in football games at the professional level where physical talent is tends toward parity often turns on who is the most emotionally engaged in the game. According to reports, there’s a lot of trash talk that goes on. Why? To distract the opposing players, get them to jump, get them to place their focus on hitting back instead of coolly using intellectual advantage to gain physical advantage. Could hazing serve the purpose of toughening up guys to face these kinds of tests? It also feels a bit like boot camp. Strip the individual of identity to create a better team player.
    I’m just a girl who doesn’t have experience in this kind of testosterone-driven competitions, but I wonder.


    1. Hi Mary. I think you know a lot more about all this than you’re letting on. The Marines, at least what little I know of what goes on in boot camp, certainly seems to agree that stripping the identity from an individual will make the corp stronger, that it will forge a team that can take orders and function more effectively. So maybe they feel the same way in the NFL? I just don’t agree with all this abuse. Building self esteem doesn’t work that way. If you have a depressed lineman, did anyone bother asking what might be wrong?


  2. Incognito just sounds like a felon to me, and the NFL seems to be just fine employing felons as long as the money keeps rolling in.


  3. The problem in the Incognito case may be more related to racism…Who knows? In any case, he is clearly a child in a giant’s body and doesn’t understand what he did. If it were just hazing, we would have heard about such goings-on long before this. If he was trying to push Martin to give more, that is certainly not the way to do it. I am happy that Miami has suspended him and if they have guts, they will dump him.

    PS: I went to a school without fraternities although we had some memorable parties anyway. But the nice thing was that there was no “follow the light of Christ” which therefore eliminate a large segment of the student population.


  4. It is a disgusting aspect of human behavior that lingers on isn’t it , and is, if anything, more pervasive and damaging now. I am reading Pat Conroy’s latest tome, “The Death of Santini’. This culture of sadism and bullying is essentially what every one of his prodigious quantity of books are about, from the perspective of the bullied.
    In families, the Citadel, the military, football, and now every school it seems.
    I have always been so proud that my alma mater outlawed frats and sororities. I always knew they were stupid.
    Alpha Kappa Ridiculous!
    Love it~


  5. Hi Art!
    As president of Lambda Chi Alpha at Penn State & an engineering under graduate, I took my academics seriously. Our chapter is one of the oldest and has a long tradition of supporting various charities and other pursuits such as academic excellence plus athletics. Certainly, we had pounding bands and some of the most legendary parties at PSU. We lead the way in the transition from “Pledging” to “Associates.” Most folks out side of “Lambda” do not realize the initiation rituals follow the Masons and “follow the light of Christ.” Some folks who never came close to a good “Greek” org have disdain for the process. Understandable. When I see the Mayor of Toronto exhibit his tragically chaotic behaviors, I am reminded of the NFL locker rooms. Bravado and idiocy seem to go hand in hand.


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