Major League Baseball and its players union are set to ratify a new collective bargaining agreement tomorrow that includes a section banning hazing. The proposal specifically bans rituals that require, “dressing up as women or wearing costumes that may be offensive to individuals based on their race, sex, nationality, age, sexual orientation, gender identify or other characteristic.” The Associated Press first reported on the details of new provision and said the MLBPA will not contest it.
MLB clubs often force rookies to dress up before their debut seasons, often in costume as female characters or celebrities. MLB Vice President Paul Misfud said that they enacted the policy, “in light of social media, which in our view sort of unfortunately publicized a lot of the dressing up. He also told the AP that players had complained to the league:
“Although it hasn’t happened, you could sort of see how like someone might even dress up in black face and say, ‘Oh, no, we were just dressing up,’” Misfud said. “We’ve also understood that a number of players have complained about it.”
The policy, which Deadspin has obtained a copy of, doesn’t just ban dressing like a woman. It includes language that bans forcing rookies to drink alcohol or take drugs, encouraging taunting or excessive exercise, and coercing rookies to do things that are illegal or dangerous. The proposal also includes an anti-bullying clause that states: “Players may not engage in a pattern of verbal or physical conduct that is designed to demean, disgrace or cause mental or physical harm to a member of his club.”
MLB officials noted that they don’t want to ban all initiation “traditions,” but they wanted to be sensitive to potentially offensive ones. Near the end, the two-page policy also includes this language:
The purpose of this policy is not to prohibit all traditions regarding rookies or players, 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.