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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Carrying More than Pads

So I am, admittedly, a few days late, but I wanted to weigh in regardless. Recently, in sports news, a bit of a big deal was made that Dez Bryant, a rookie for the Dallas Cowboys, refused to carry veteran Roy Williams' pads following practice. Rookies carrying veterans' pads is a bit of a tradition, you see, and Bryant refusing to perform the service struck a nerve with some.

While mostly benign, making a rookie carry your pads is, by definition hazing. Cowboys' coach Wade Phillips told the team that they were there to play football, and that the new guys didn't have to engage in any of the ritual "initiation" if they didn't want to. Bryant took him up on that.

Now I have a graduate degree in student affairs, and it is currently my career, so I have to give credit to the coach for being proactive in renouncing (refudiating?) any sort of rookie hazing up front. And while it's easy to point out that carrying pads is relatively harmless in the grand scheme of things, it's admirable that a stand has been taken.

Flashback to my high school days in marching band. When we were coming off the field, rookies carried my pads. The difference, of course, is that my pads had drums attached. They did it because they wanted to (I know, that's what all hazers claim); carrying my tris or quads back to the band room was mutually beneficial. It gave my back a rest and it gave a freshman or sophomore who was probably playing cymbals a chance to play around for a bit on tenors. This was how they got a glimpse into their future with the organization.

So yes, Dez Bryant was perfectly within his rights to refuse to carry Roy Williams' pads. But in doing so, he may have missed a chance to connect, relate, and perhaps peek into his future with the Dallas Cowboys.
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