Hazing a victim of correctness

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 22, 2008

I heard the other day about a Mississippi high school that might be in trouble over a hazing incident. Some upperclassmen (juniors and seniors) are accused of hazing the sophomore newcomers to the varsity baseball program.

We all know that hazing has become illegal — another of the politically incorrect victims of today’s litigious society. In my younger days (long, long ago) hazing was completely accepted.

Whether you were joining a varsity team, a club, fraternity, or most any organization, you expected hazing to be part of your initiation. I don’t recall anybody suffering from that hazing, but I do remember some kids getting hurt, or worse, in accidents when they could have been part of some activity, even though that activity might have involved some hazing.

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Maybe I am too far behind the times, but I do worry about our country under the direction of the ACLU. If there was any harm from hazing it came from the anticipation. That fear far outweighed any actual harm.

I know we live in a different time. The wimping down of America is almost complete. Those of us with a strong faith in God know that he can reverse the present trend, if America is now worth saving, in his sight.

Last week, I expressed my wishes that all three NFL quarterbacks with Mississippi connections could have been playing Sunday with Super Bowl slots at stake. Indianapolis Colts’ quarterback Peyton Manning failed to bring his team through against San Diego, so his brother, Eli Manning, and Brett Favre battled it out with The Ginants moving on to the Feb. 3 Super Bowl.

For the first time in several years, I will know one of the officials working the Super Bowl. Larry Rose, a Floridian, will officiate the game as side judge. Since Larry and I worked the same position in the SEC, I never got to officiate with him, but did observe several of his games. My sincere congratulations to Larry.

The current NFL officiating roster includes at least two former SEC officials besides Larry Rose. Steve Freeman was a back judge in the SEC, and may have worked a previous Super Bowl. Lee Dyer, also a former SEC back judge, has officiated in the NFL since the 2003 season. Lee is a good official, and I have no doubt that he will draw a Super Bowl assignment in the near future. Steve Freeman’s son, Brad (who will be remembered as a stalwart member of Mississippi State’s recent College World Series baseball team) is currently officiating football in the SEC. Lee Dyer’s late father, Aubrey, was a couple of years ahead of me in military school at Baylor, in Chattanooga. The guys who officiate in the NFL must not only be good football officials, they must also undergo regular background checks.

I understand that officials can only apply to the NFL if they are invited to do so. Any official in professional sports must be prepared to receive the verbal abuse that goes with play at that level. Any official with tin ears or a thin skin will not last.

Could I have officiated in the NFL? I will never know. I was happy in the SEC, and had a very satisfying career officiating major college football. Several men I officiated with became NFL officials, and some of those regretted the move to professional football. Like all of life, it’s different strokes for different folks.

And, That’s Official

Al Graning is a former SEC official and former Natchez resident. He can be reached by e-mail at AlanWard39157@aol.com.