The practice of pranking rookies and forcing them to do stupid things dates back years. The practice of hazing a sophomore seems like a relatively new concept, but the G-Men have already mastered the art.
Not everyone’s onboard with their movement, however, and those concerned mother hens need to relax.
Amukamara, a second-year cornerback, was recently thrown into a tub of cold water by teammate Jason Pierre-Paul. Video footage of the incident — containing strong language, plenty of yelling and a rather confused Amukamara — has since surfaced and gone viral after Giants punter Steve Weatherford posted the clip to his Twitter.
All fun and games, right? Perhaps. But that’s not necessarily the unanimous mindset of those on the outside looking in. Instead, there’s been ample backlash from the media and fans, with some wondering whether the tub toss reveals an underlying chemistry issue in the Giants locker room.
Now, before Amukamara-splashing into this whole debacle, let’s first make one thing clear. The act of hazing has understandably been placed under a microscope in recent years due to the unfortunate end results in some situations involving adolescents. But while openly encouraging the act on a professional level, which so many young athletes view with admiration, probably isn’t a good idea, the public outcry concerning this particular incident still seems senseless.
First of all, to deduce from such a video that chemistry issues exist in the Giants locker room is foolish. We’re talking about a 45-second clip in which one player throws another player into a tub. He’s not beating the hell out of him or going all Chris Gardoki and making him eat a pile of white dog crap. It all seems rather harmless, albeit a bit strange considering Amukamara’s status as a second-year pro.
You could certainly sit there and say, “Well, what if he got hurt?” Sure, that’s a possibility. But so is getting hit by a bus, slipping on a banana peel or driving off a cliff. Going off that mindset would entail entering any daily activity with an inherent fear, which isn’t exactly an ideal quality of life. The fact of the matter is that when compared to the hits Amukamara and other NFL players deal with on a daily basis, getting thrown into a tub is like getting smacked upside the head with a pillow. (And not one of those illegal pillow-fight maneuvers where you swing the thing by the pillow case like a mad man, either.)
Giants head coach Tom Coughlin did inform the media that he’d look into the video. On a related note, he’s also going to conduct practice, watch film and take a shower (hopefully) before the day’s over. Heck, he might even throw in a quick shave session or a trip to the store for good measure.
All joking aside, yes, Coughlin will check in with his players to see what the deal is concerning the video, but to expect some huge ramifications to come from a prank like this is everyone’s overreactory glands (yes, I made that up) going haywire. Until Coughlin throws down the gavel and says something is totally off about his team, we shouldn’t assume anything else, especially as it pertains to this incident. The Giants certainly didn’t become Super Bowl champions by throwing hissy fits every time they come under the gun.
Really the only logical concern out of all this is the notion mentioned before — that such hazing could send a bad message to our country’s youth. However, the Amukamara incident just doesn’t have the feel of something that’s bound to encourage nationwide torment. Absolutely, measures need to be taken to reduce the risk of students being bullied and what not, but an NFL player (a grown man) getting tossed into a tub of cold water after football practice doesn’t scream “disaster.”
Saying that is probably going to rub some people the wrong way, but pranks have long been a part of the sports culture, and a good old-fashioned tub toss is far more funny than it is concerning. The argument that no hazing is good hazing, while nice and cozy in theory, completely disregards the pranks we’ve come to know, love and chuckle about while wasting time on YouTube. Wrapping a rookie’s car in plastic wrap, forcing a player to sing before the entire team or duct taping a player to a pole (think Pedro Martinez) are universally acceptable, but throwing someone into a foot of water is suddenly some catostrophic cause for concern? It just doesn’t make a lot of sense.
If there’s one overriding complaint about today’s athletes, it’s that they’re in it for the money and that they’re not willing to let loose and have fun. Yet now, here we are, discussing whether someone perhaps had too much fun at the expense of another athlete. Doomed if you do. Doomed if you don’t.
In hindsight, Weatherford probably shouldn’t have shared the video via social media and instead kept it inside the confines of the locker room. It’s safe to assume there’s plenty of other similar pranks going on leaguewide, but Weatherford’s tweet is what ultimately set off the madness. But censoring Weatherford also goes against what we now enjoy as an Internet society. Just as we want athletes to have fun, we want athletes to open up. Then, when a few people get all huffy and puffy, those same athletes are suddenly expected to pull on the reins just as quickly as they broke out of their shell.
Make no mistake about it, there’s a lot of layers to this whole issue, and no one will ever agree on where exactly the boundaries stand when it comes to incidents like the Prince Amukamara tub toss. But just keep in mind that there’s a lot of other outside factors that have a greater potential to corrupt today’s youth — other, more negative, more dangerous, more concerning factors.
In the end, it looks like Jason Pierre-Paul had the wrong guy. It’s the worried skeptics who need to cool down.