If you like initiation haircuts, then this is the blog for you!!!
Well, the most delightfully “extreme” haircuts of all are the initiation haircuts being rocked by all those brave rookie athletes and school freshmen who cheerfully submit to some of the wildest, most bizarre haircuts known to man.
If your school is hassling you – either for being an upperclassman who took hair clippers to the heads of freshmen, or for being a freshman who cheerfully submitted to an initiation haircut and frankly enjoyed the experience – here’s the place to come for proof that it’s totally harmless fun with some amazingly positive values.
IF YOU’VE EVER ENDURED A HAIRCUT INITIATION, THEN YOU’RE OUR HERO!!! To those of us on “Mohawks Rock” who are intrigued by “extreme” haircuts, our special heroes have always been those freshmen and rookie athletes who have the guts to willingly submit to an embarrassing initiation haircut – and who are macho enough to wear those jaw-dropping haircuts for a week or two of harmless hazing. We look at their carved-up hair and think to ourselves: “Wow, I hope I would have as much courage as they do, if I had to go through that initiation.”
Our heroes also include the upperclassmen and veteran team members who wield the clippers to create those jaw-dropping masterpieces as a way to warmly welcome freshmen and rookies to the team, thereby keeping alive the fun tradition of haircut hazing that our fathers, grandfathers, and great grandfathers before us enjoyed.
For generations, our fathers and grandfathers have regaled their young sons and grandsons with harrowing stories of their own humiliating haircut initiations in days gone by – stories that shocked but strangely intrigued us at the same time. “Grandpa, show us a picture of your initiation haircut back in the day. What did they do to you?” Many of us spent a good bit of time secretly trying to envision what dignified grandpa must have looked like with his hair carved up like a hot-cross bun – and sort of envying him.
And our heroes include those very wise parents who repeatedly have the courage to openly and enthusiastically defend the right of their sons to willingly submit to that never-to-be-forgotten, cherished rite of passage – parents with the courage to stand up against school officials and anti-hazing reformers who try to discourage this totally harmless fun. Below, we’ll tell the firsthand stories of a number of parents who have openly defended the haircut hazing of their own sons as just boys being boys -- standing up against pecksniff school officials and misguided anti-hazing reformers who foolishly confuse harmless fun with brutality, which it obviously isn’t.
Our heroes include the rapidly increasing numbers of school officials with the wisdom and forbearance to realize that -- as long as it's voluntary -- a little totally harmless fun with hair clippers can add enormously to school spirit and team comradeship -- and a really, REALLY fun atmosphere on campus.
Increasingly, school officials are realizing -- very belatedly -- that fun-filled initiation haircuts (when strictly voluntary) bring students together in a powerful bonding experience, where everybody goes through the same ritual shearing that gives everyone a good, healthy laugh -- freshmen as well as upperclassmen.
Anti-hazing zealots prefer to replace freshman haircuts with a welcoming picnic or a warm greeting in the school auditorium. Nice idea -- but, for a powerful bonding experience, a picnic just can't compete with a fun-filled ritual shearing and wearing an embarrassing haircut around campus for a few days to show one's enthusiastic commitment to the school or team. .
Nothing creates such a powerful, instant bond between freshmen and upperclassmen as when freshmen cheerfully volunteer to let the upperclassmen do to them the same thing that previously was done to the upperclassmen. In first-hand accounts below, those who have gone willingly to their own shearing say that part of the fun of enduring a haircut initiation is the certain knowledge that next year you'll get a chance to do the same thing to a new crop of freshmen. Two decades from now, the welcoming picnic will be long-forgotten -- but the welcoming haircut will create a lifetime of memories of having gone through a truly meaningful rite of passage. . .
Those high schools and colleges that don’t allow their students the totally innocent fun of haircut hazing are depriving their male students of one of the cherished rites of boyhood. Why do you think haircut hazing is so wildly popular at so many schools and colleges all over America and on so many NFL teams? It isn’t because guys don’t like it. Duh.
Check out the photos below, showing the big grins on the faces of happy freshmen proudly showing off their initiation haircuts to their fellow students. Do they look like "victims?" Check out the photos later in this article showing incoming students at some colleges actually volunteering for freshman head shavings -- and signing permission slips just before they submit to the clippers -- because they want to be initiated to give them that powerful feeling of belonging.
This blog is also dedicated to every guy who regrets that he somehow missed out on the once-in-a- lifetime fun of a haircut initiation, the memorable team bonding, and the incredibly warm welcome it earns from older team members – for proving your right to join the brotherhood by enduring what the seniors themselves endured three years earlier. Hey, it's just hair -- and hair grows back.
Yes, you’ll be a little embarrassed taking your son to church looking like that – but the kid will secretly be proud of himself for having the courage to go through it. (See the firsthand account below by a college student with pleasant memories of wearing his baseball team initiation haircut to church, delighting at the stares he attracted,because he knew they secretly admired his guts.)
Despite what the anti-hazing reformers will tell you, the haircut initiation is one of the most eagerly anticipated rituals of boyhood. Don't take our word for it. Check out all the first-hand accounts below from guys who endured it – and thoroughly enjoyed it.
Three or four decades ago -- and going all the way back to the late 1940s -- the basic Mohawk was the initiation haircut of choice for football players. Hundreds (thousands?) of rookie football players in those days all over the U.S. took to the field wearing initiation Mohawks that the seniors inflicted on them..
Here's a historic photo of sophomore football players newly elevated to the Nebraska Cornhuskers varsity team in 1950, bowing their heads to show off their initiation Mohawks to the newspaper cameras. (One has been given an eight-ball cut.).
But now that Mohawks have become much more acceptable in polite society -- even on the job -- initiation rituals have kicked it up a couple of notches with much more radical, jaw-dropping (and delightful) initiation haircuts.
Even the wilder initiation haircuts are, in reality, just astonishingly inventive variations of the Mohawk -- . . just bristly tufts of hair standing out in shocking contrast to an otherwise shaven skull. They are, in essence, just “drunken Mohawks.” And some of them are so inventive, they truly become works of art – folk art -- worthy of their own art show in a gallery someday. Until that happens, this blog can be their art show.
For those of us who love "extreme" haircuts that the "Mohawks Rock" Website celebrates, the initiation haircut is a "socially acceptable" opportunity for us average guys to have the fun of exploring haircuts so extreme that, if we wore them every day, people might think we were . . . well, just a little bit crazy. But if it's part of a hazing ritual, everybody just chuckles . . . and shrugs it off . . . and says, "Don';t worry. He's just being initiated. He's just proving he's tough enough to take it like a man."
When I was in college and seniors on the football team inflicted shocking initiation haircuts on all the freshman players, the rest of us students had enormous admiration for the victims for having the guts to cheerfully submit to the clippers.
It may sound crazy, but those bizarre haircuts were sort of an emblem of intense masculinity. Because it clearly took a lot of courage to endure the embarrassment. Because the girls on campus thought those initiation haircuts were “incredibly hot.” See item below where girls vote on which NFL rookie has the “hottest” initiation haircut and numerous first-hand accounts from guys who say they never attracted as many girls as they did when they were forced to wear an embarrassing initiation haircut around the campus for a week or two.
And because only the men (never the campus women) were were considered tough enough to submit to the clippers.
Embarrassing? Hell yes. But fun.
Even for the victims?
Yep, read on and you’ll be surprised. We’ll share with you (below) a large number of first-hand, personal accounts in which scores of guys who submitted to initiation haircuts describe in their own words why it was an exciting, team-building, bonding experience that they thoroughly enjoyed. They vigorously defend the right of boys to voluntarily endure that cherished and greatly anticipated rite of passage.
We’ll also include an astonishing number of news accounts by various professional sports writers who glamorize and eagerly anticipate the annual August parade of NFL rookies proudly showing off their initiation haircuts in training camp. .
In the first-hand accounts (and photographs) below, sociologists,psychologists, school officials, parents, coaches, and even the over-reacting anti-hazing reformers will find a wealth of material to explore a fascinating sociological phenomenon that is rarely talked about openly and even more rarely studied by serious academics – because initiations (especially in past decades) were often performed in secret, away from the prying eyes of parents, coaches, and anti-hazing reformers, often with the willing victims sworn to secrecy. It’s way past time to re-evaluate the totally harmless initiation haircut (hey, it’s just hair and it grows back), and concentrate the attention of reformers on eliminating instead the truly dangerous initiation practices like fatal alcohol poisoning or genuine brutality.
The popularity of initiation haircuts is exploding, thanks partly to the NFL’s wildy popular annual shaving of each new crop of pro football rookies – one of the most eagerly anticipated highlights of each new football season -- and then parading their shaven victims before all the news cameras to appear on sports pages all over the U.S. . . . to the delight of their fans.
Meantime, high school and college teams are gleefully copying the initiation rituals of their NFL heroes, faster than high school principals and coaches can discourage the growing trend. Get used to it, principals. You’ve lost the battle . . . so just enbrace it and enjoy it. Hey, it’s totally harmless. For God’s sake, let boys be boys.
To prove that most boys are actually very proud of their initiation haircuts and frankly enjoy the experience – and that a great many parents likewise get a kick out of the haircuts -- there are tons of photos like this one showing shaven boys posing with their initiation haircut while parents gleefully snap photos of their sons’ wacky haircuts to remember the fun decades later. And the shavees proudly snap pictures of each other’s shocking haircuts.
Until the past two decades, haircut hazing was mostly an underground and semi-secretive practice – which merely added to the allure. College and high school block letter clubs for varsity athletes would often take their initiates to a secret, off-campus site for their ritual head shaving, in order to remain below the radar and avoid persnickety school principals and anti-hazing laws. Some still do.
But now – thanks largely to the endless artistry of NFL haircut hazing inflicted on their rookies every season to the total delight of their fans and sportswriters, filling the sports pages of newspapers everywhere with shaven football rookies -- initiation haircuts have now thankfully moved into the open and have evolved into a true art form. Thank you, NFL!!! It was football’s best contribution since the T-formation!!!
And the biggest factor in the public’s sudden – and totally surprising – embrace of the pure fun of haircut hazing has been the amazingly good-natured acceptance of the initiation haircut by the victims themselves . . . by the hapless NFL rookies (God bless ‘em) who have to wear the mutilated haircuts in public for the first exhibition game of the new season.
The annual sight of large numbers of NFL rookies – with big grins on their faces – proudly showing off thei r initiation haircuts to the news cameras in an eagerly anticipated rite of passage has left the anti-hazing reformers looking rather ridiculous after many years of warning that haircut hazing was cruel and inhumane.
If the rookies themselves are having that much fun with the haircuts, then
what’s so bad about it? Lighten up, reformers – and join in the fun!!!
You’ll see plenty of rants elsewhere from anti-hazing crusaders telling you how “cruel” initiation haircuts supposedly are.
Nonsense!!! This blog argues that haircut hazing is totally innocent fun – for both the victims and the perpetrators. It’s just a guy thing . . . as long as it’s completely voluntary . . . and as long as the few who don’t want to submit are allowed to opt-out without suffering any retaliation or discrimination. (But, hey, the dropouts are missing one of the real highlights of growing into manhood.)
the popular “Fantasy Football Girls” Webcast decided to do a whole show, voting on which NFL rookie had the “hottest” initiation haircut. Here were two of their two winners – both of which they described as “really hot.”
So you want a date with a great-looking gal? Just sign up for a team that gives really “hot” initiation haircuts – and get ready to fend off the chicks who can’t wait to feel your . . . uh, bristly tuft.
What’s the attraction? Maybe it’s just the sheer masculinity of a guy who’s tough enough – and self-confident enough – to wear an initiation haircut everywhere for a week or two. It’s such a “guy thing.”
DON’T BELIEVE THAT THE VICTIMS ACTUALLY ENJOY HAIRCUT INITIATIONS? . . . THAT IT’S A LOT OF FUN? In this blog below, I’ll print a number of first-hand accounts in which astonishingly large numbers of guys who submitted to haircut hazing will tell you in their own words why they actually enjoyed the experience . . . why they want other guys to be able to enjoy the once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Below is perhaps the most eye-opening description of all. It’s an article from a student newspaper at a Christian college in the western U.S., explaining why the members of their rugby team actually enjoy the ordeal of initiation haircuts and wouldn’t want to miss the experience.
By Ryan Riddle, Correspondent
[That’s Ryan, the author, on the right with his head shaved during an NFL initiation.] Ryan played defensive end at the University of California. Afterward, he was drafted by the Oakland Raiders and spent time with the New York Jets, Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens and Los Angeles Avengers.]
Every first-year player entering the NFL comes with the distinct understanding that rookie hazing is a rite of passage designed to humiliate.
What they don’t know, however, is just what exactly that process will look like.
One of the first and most common hazing experiences a rookie encounters around this time of year is intended to strip away any remaining ego you may have held onto from the star-studded college days. What better way to do that than to attack one of the most identifiable visual elements of our character—our hair?
When the veterans gather around the locker room equipped with a pair of clippers and a series of bad fashion ideas, rookies can be seen fleeing the scene like roaches scattering when the lights come on. Unfortunately, there’s really no escaping the inevitable. In fact, the rooks who fight the hardest to preserve their precious locks or manicured waves typically are the ones who get it the worst.
Veterans love holding “a fighter” down and watching him squirm as they take away something dear to his heart. The psychology behind this must be fascinating. A player is only given mercy on rare occasions. Religious reasons and things of that nature tend to be the only exceptions.
Some guys end up being adorned with intricate designs etched into their head with the craftsmanship of a true artist, while others, like myself, were transformed into a disease-ridden transient, suffering from a multitude of psychological and, perhaps, dermatological issues.
I personally was one of the guys who went quietly into the barber’s chair from hell. Realizing the futility of a struggle, I figured this could all be viewed in a positive light. After all, it’s not every day that one gets to say they were defaced by NFL football players.
It also meant that any humiliation regarding my appearance would be null and void considering it was manufactured by the very guys who would be initiating the ridicule. Besides, we’re essentially isolated from society, so any worry of public criticism is not really a factor, except for when my first game in the NFL happens to be played with giant patches of hair missing from all over my head.
For some, messing with their hair is about as bad as it gets. But generally, the hazing process tends to get progressively more unpleasant for rookies and more enjoyable for veterans as the boredom of training camp take its toll on the psyche.
When you think of an NFL athlete, the last thing you’d expect to be lacking in that player’s life is respect. Yet for an unproven rookie barely finding his way within the confines of the organization, respect comes few and far between.
For first-year guys, the road toward acceptance is not one likely to be traveled smoothly. Respect among coaches and peers is akin to currency. In order to access those bargaining chips in this league, you first better make some substantial deposits.
Until that moment arrives, the plight of rookies around the league may feel more like indentured servitude rather than the typical glitz and glamor usually associated with the pro-football lifestyle. . . .
This daily hazing ritual can be somewhat stressful because, if either the helmet or shoulder pads of a veteran happens to be left out on the practice field, well, there might be a few rookies taped to the goalpost at the end of practice the next day.
This isn’t a good situation to find yourself in because, once taped down, you’re essentially at the mercy of any and everything that may come your way. Rarely does being taped down not come with some extracurricular fun.
Some of the common avenues of mischief are to dump ice-cold water on the players strapped to the post. Covering the helpless rookie with shaving cream is a classic go-to as well—the possibilities are limited only to what a guy can get his hands on and his im
Like most things in the relationship between veterans and rookies, failure to deliver could result in some serious repercussions from the older guys. Avoidance of those conflicts will almost always be the best option. . . .
I look back on it no
w with a smile and sense of pride. After all, it isn’t every day you can have a room full of guys—many of whom you grew up admiring—on the floor, laughing with tears in their eyes.
THE GIRLS THOUGHT THIS INITIATION HAIRCUT WAS “INCREDIBLY HOT":
This rookie kicker for the Washington Redskins, Zack Hocker, told his new teammates that if they would agree not to require him to stand up and sing a song on initiation night, he would willingly submit to any haircut of the team’s choice. Oops. Bad idea, Zach.
A vote was taken by the team to choose which haircut style to inflict on the hapless rookie, and Hocker had to submit to what he described as a “horizontal Mohawk,” They didn’t allow him to wear a cap to cover it.
Some anti-hazing critics demanded that the team let him out of their requirement that he wear the cross-cut haircut at the first exhibition game. But Hocker, a good sport to the end, insisted on wearing the haircut until the veteran players gave him permission to shave it off. Good for him!!! I admire him tremendously for his guts.
He even good-naturedly tweeted out a photo of his embarrassing haircut to all his fans, saying: “Nobody ever said your first season was going to be easy.” Hey, nice ‘do, Zack!!! Love it!!!
SUPER BOWL STAR QUARTERBACK TOM BRADY SAYS HAIRCUT HAZING IS GREAT FUN
Back In August of 2013, Super Bowl star quarterback Tom Brady took a pair of clippers to the heads of a brand new crop of Rookies arriving at the New England Patriots summer camp and gave them the embarrassing haircuts they were expected to submit to. Afterward, Brady provided reporters with one of the best descriptions ever given of just why the annual haircut ritual is eagerly anticipated by both the victims and the perpetrators as a way to lighten the drudgery of training camp.
One reporter described the ritual this way:
“On Tuesday, the moment arrived that all New England Patriots rookies have been dreading: Time for the traditional shaving of the rookies. With Tom Brady taking the lead with clippers in hand, the Patriots quarterback showed off his amateur barbering skills as the rookies were treated to some truly abysmal hair-don’ts.
“Said Brady on the hazing tradition: ‘They look good, don’t they? It was fun today -- probably the most exciting part of camp was watching all this hair get cut off. So, it was actually a lot of fun.’” (That’s one of Brady’s haircut victims on the right with the shocking half-shaved head.) Nice job, Tom!!!
“There were some good ones,” said Brady. “There was real creativity. The veterans sit around and think about what they want to do to the rookies’ hair.”
Brady told another publication: “We always cut the rookies’ hair. It’s a fun thing. It’s a camaraderie thing. It’s kind of a group sacrifice, we’re-all-in-it-together type of thing, and it’s done in a playful way. . . . It’s done as more to bring the team together and not drive the team apart.”
Fortunately for Brady, there are no surviving photos on the Internet of the way Patriot veterans hacked up his own hair when he was a rookie. “I don’t know what kind of a whack job I started out with after initiation night, he told reporters. “But I ended up with it being completely shaved bald for the first game. It was fun. They got me pretty good.”
This one, on the right, inflicted on former Raiders rookie tight end Mason Brodine, should make the list of the 10 all-time best initiation haircuts. Truly one for the ages!!! Awesome!!!
“I knew it was coming when I got to football camp – so I went willingly,” Brodine told sportswriters with a chuckle as the veteran team members made him show off his rookie haircut to news photographers. “They got me good!!!” Yup, they sure did, Mason. And you were a really good sport about it, which is half the fun -- seeing you take it with a grin. Love your haircut!!!
The photo on the left shows what Brodine looked like with a full head of hair, just before the initiation. Wow, you’re right, Mason – the comparison between the two photos leaves no doubt that they really did carve you up good!!!
For the benefit of his fans, I hope they made him wear the haircut for at least a couple of weeks – at least through the first exhibition game – and that they made him take his helmet off a lot so everyone in the stadium could see what they did to him, because that’s the other half of the fun.
ONE OF THE FIRST NFL ROOKIES TO EVER GET HALF HIS HEAD SHAVED WAS FORMER OAKLAND RAIDERS RIGHT GUARD GENNARO DINAPOLI
The first time most people ever saw that jaw-dropping haircut was almost 20 years ago in July 1998, when the Oakland Raiders shaved half the head of rookie right guard Gennaro DiNapoli. The photo on the left shows what DiNapoli looked like when he arrived at training camp with all his hair intact when the rookie arrived at the Raiders’ summer camp in Napa, CA.
But two days later, newspaper readers were stunned when DiNapoli’s initiation haircut (seen here on the right) was splashed across Page 8-D with all the hair shaved off one side of his head. An all-time classic initiation cut!!!
Reporters asked him what on earth happened to him. “Well,” he said with a chuckle, “I can’t tell you because Coach Gruden said there’s no hazing allowed – so I can’t rat on my boys. I think they’re going to get rid of the other side Saturday night. I guess I’m a rookie, so I’ll have to take this stuff all year long. But next year I’ll be doing it to someone else. And I can hardly wait.”
Amidst his humiliation, little did DiNapoli suspect that his photo in countless American newspapers would suddenly inspire an epidemic of half-shaven heads at other NFL training camp over the next few years.
And 12 years later, the Raiders would repeat their half-shaven masterpiece on offensive lineman Alex Parsons, shown here on the left. And within a couple more years, several Hollywood stars and fashion leaders, like the guy on the right, glommed onto the half-shaven look as a cool fashion fad because they thought it looked incredibly sexy.
The Mohawk began as an initiation haircut before it became a wildly popular fashion trend. And now the half-shaven skull has followed the same route from hazing to high fashion. Who knew?
ONE SPORTSWRITER DESCRIBED NFL HAIRCUT HAZING THIS WAY:
“Before we all get caught up in the important NFL issues . . . let’s take a few minutes to enjoy the lighter side of NFL training camps. I am talking, of course, about the rookie hazing, and in particular about the tradition of giving rookies absurd haircuts. . . . They won’t help you win your fantasy football league, but they’re still worth a few minutes of your time.”
ANOTHER SPORTSWRITER’S TAKE:
Contrary to what the anti-hazing reformers would have you believe, he says the NFL rookies themselves actually cherish the scrapbook photos of the humiliating rookie haircuts they had to endure – a prized memento, proof of their acceptance by a tough team in a tough sport..
“I miss the days when the New York Giants taped up rookie Reuben Randall and threw him into an ice bath. Those were the fun days of training camp hazing. That tradition was ruined because the NFL got all sensitive when videos came out showing the rookies getting lit up by the veterans who cheered on the hazing. According to the NFL, it was a bad look. I didn’t think so. It was just men being men. We’re talking about a sport where men punch each other in the nuts while on the bottom of piles. But hazing is out..
So the vets have to really enjoy the rookie haircuts. Of course you remember Tebow’s Friar Tuck look. It was, and still is, the most recognized rookie haircut in rookie haircut history. But these vets keep getting more creative by the year. While the fun hazing is forever gone in the NFL, we can still look forward to haircuts rookies will always cherish. No matter if they are cut after the first preseason game or go on to a long career, these guys will show their kids and grandkids photos of the rookie haircut.
AND HERE'S ANOTHER SPORTSWRITER'S TAKE:
“Ah, the annual fun of haircut hazing . . . in the NFL. We can still look forward to haircuts rookies will always cherish.
No matter if they are cut after the first preseason game or go on to a long career, these guys will show their kids and grandkids photos of the rookie haircut.".
To no one’s surprise – amidst all the nationwide publicity showing jaw-dropping NFL haircuts –college and high school teams all over the U.S. soon began copying the delightful NFL haircut ritual. [See examples below.] Well, actually, the haircut hazing originally began in the colleges . . . then spread to the NFL when college players began drifting to professional football . . . then spread back again to the colleges and high schools to complete the round robin.
Here’s how one sportswriter in 2010 described the spread of initiation haircuts from the NFL to college teams:
“Haircut hazing has officially reached epidemic status.
“Maybe I just wasn’t paying attention as closely in past years or maybe it wasn’t as well-documented, but I don’t ever remember more rookies — and now freshmen — with bad haircuts leading up to the regular season.
“The Patriots gave their rookies slightly embarrassing haircuts. They were then outdone by Tim Tewbow’s, the Jaguars more vulgar cuts, and then Raiders shaving one entire side of one unfortunate rookie’s head and face.
“But this is a first for the college-level Minnesota Golden Gophers. Is a coach yelling at them in the above photo, or are they just that humiliated? In any event, freshmen all over the country should now beware: haircut hazing has reached the collegiate level.”
When it comes to NFL initiation haircuts, the variety and the creativity are endless – and fascinating. Every summer when all the NFL teams open their football camps and welcome all the new rookie victims with bizarre initiation haircuts . . . and force the humiliated rookies to show off their haircuts to news photographers . . . newspapers all over the nation delight in publicizing the year’s new crop of rookie haircut designs.
Football fans love seeing them. It’s a greatly anticipated highlight of each football season – a national obsession -- almost as closely followed by fans as seeing which player gets drafted by which team.
What you’re about to see below is a series of other firsthand accounts, written by rookie athletes and high school and college freshmen, describing their experiences when upperclassmen and veteran team members took electric clippers and carved bizarre patterns into their hair – and then required them to wear those embarrassing haircuts for days or weeks on end.
You’d expect it to be a pretty awful experience, right? Well, get ready for a major shock.
On the contrary, almost ALL of the victims were intensely proud of their initiation haircuts – and intensely proud of themselves for having the guts to endure a little embarrassment wearing those mutilated haircuts in public.
Most of them enjoyed the experience, and a surprising number of the high school and college victims described it as an exciting, life-changing experience that gave them a powerful, new, outgoing self-confidence, often turning shy young men into the life of the party.
They say once you’ve worn a mutilated haircut around the campus or around town for a week, attracting stares, it’s pretty hard to ever again be shy about anything – and they say that brings a new maturity. A new self-confidence. A new, manly feeling of “I don’t give a shit.” They say learning to endure a little embarrassment is part of being a man.
Sounds like an exaggeration? Not really. Psychologists for many decades have been treating patients with great success by deliberately exposing them to the very things they fear most. Most boys growing up tend to be a bit shy – some painfully so. But after you’ve been forced to attract stares by walking around town for a couple of weeks with an exquisitely humiliating haircut, hardly anything else is ever again going to embarrass you. So the initiation haircut can surprisingly be a very valuable, healthy part of growing up.
BASEBALL FRESHMEN GET NEW TRIMS
[Here’s a student newspaper account of baseball team initiation haircut fun at a Southern church-affiliated university]
“Having a hard time imagining some big, macho guys that all have coincidently bad haircuts? Allow me to explain.
“Every year, the university baseball team does a form of “freshman initiation” where it thinks of the worst possible do’s for the new players. This year, the seniors did not take their task lightly in embarrassing the poor freshmen.
“According to the older players, this tradition is a part of the freshmen gaining the respect from their veteran teammates and handling it with a smile, whether it is genuine or not.
“They all knew it was coming, but on Monday the eight youngsters walked in the locker room to find several hair trimmers lined up, and they automatically knew what was about to happen. Nervously, they took their seats and allowed their teammates to go to work on their hair with complete freedom.
“These horrid hairstyles only had to last a little over 24 hours, yet they had to be worn around school for a full day (with no hats allowed) as well as flaunted at chapel in front of the entire student body.
“Conveniently, the baseball team sits in the front row, allowing their hair to be on display for everyone to see. From pictures trimmed into the backs of their eads, to Mohawks, to “old man cuts,” the boys wore it all.
“From what I have heard from the guys, they had a good attitude about it and knew that it is simply a part of being on the team. However, they were more than excited to shave off the embarrassment the next night to avoid more head-turning and laughs from around campus.
“ It looks this fashion faux pas is one that will never get old on the University baseball team!”
Haircut initiations seem to be especially popular at church-owned colleges. Which I guess proves that church schools enjoy a good initiation as much as any secular school. Good for them!!!
One freshman baseball player at this religious university in Kentucky, upon emerging from beneath the clippers, gets a welcoming hug from one of the upperclassmen for having the guts to prove his devotion to the baseball team by voluntarily submitting to an embarrassing haircut.
Most freshmen everywhere say they openly welcome the initiation head shavings because they bring such a powerful feeling of bonding with other team members. No photo illustrates that benefit more than this one.
Part of the ritual is for each victim to show off his initiation shave to the upperclassmen after they finish shearing him.
Meantime, below, a school newspaper at yet another college describes the similar enthusiasm for in initiation haircuts on their school's rugby team:
“The time has come again for of spotting unconventional haircuts and finding out who is new to the men’s rugby team.
“Every year, the rugby team has a tradition for the incoming freshmen. They can get their heads shaved in a comical way as a voluntary initiation rite, and as a way to bond with their teammates.
“’It’s just a way to have people become a part of the rugby team. It’s a part of joining a brotherhood, and a way to connect with people. Having this experience that other people had is just something that brings people together,’ the captain of the rugby team, said.
“Players said the tradition has created some fond memories. ‘You’ll probably be surprised to hear this,’ said the freshman player on the left, ‘but sometimes it’s a really great experience to make yourself look like an idiot, and be really proud of it.’”
“’I actually had a job interview two days after the seniors carved up my hair. I wore a suit jacket; I got all dressed up for this interview, and I slicked down the fragments of hair I had left. Fortunately, one of the guys who was interviewing me was a former rugby player, and he knew the tradition, so he found it quite interesting.’
“Players said the tradition is a positive way to bring the rugby team together as a community.
“’You bet your bippy it’s good for the team,” said the freshman on the right, after allowing seniors to mutilate his haircut. ‘It was voluntary,’ he said. ‘I wanted to feel more like a part of the team. I enjoy it, actually.’
“The freshmen aren’t the only ones who get their yearly haircuts. Since last year [in order to get around the college’s rules against freshman hazing], the team captains and often some of the older members of the rugby team volunteer as well to submit to the initiation ritual, as a way to bond with the freshmen and keep it from becoming something negative.” [That means the co-captains and some of the older team members volunteer to go through the haircut initiation every year for four straight years, getting their heads shaved every year. What a great team tradition!!!]]
“’I think the haircuts are a really cool tradition,’ said the freshman player with this whacked-up haircut. ‘I know you won’t believe this, but I really take pride in the initiation haircut – and pride in the team.’
“’It doesn’t only happen to new members of the rugby team. We gave our captain a monkey tail beard, that goes from his sideburn, down his chin, and up around his chin, so that it looks like a monkey tail was on his face,’ said a senior team member.
“’I think it’s a lot of fun, and it’s a good bonding experience,’ said another freshman sporting his new haircut.
“Although the tradition is optional, the majority of rugby players participate. ‘When they see the haircut,’ said another freshman, ‘people around me know I’m part of the team, which is really awesome, because the haircut identifies me as a rugby player. It just makes me more outgoing and social, even though I have a crazy haircut. Maybe because I have a crazy haircut. It’s a very communal thing. It creates a real brotherhood.’”
A junior rugger who submitted to the initiation when he was a freshman player put it this way: "There's definitely something to be said for teammates going through something awful together, like embarrassing haircuts." He said it's a great way to create ties with other teammates. "I think it’s a really fun and important part of the rugby team to have some sort of initiation. It creates bonds and memories.”
Another upperclassman rugby player on the team, recalling his own initiation haircut, said while he did not exactly enjoy it, nevertheless getting his hair cut by the club’s returning members was definitely something that created a very deep bond. “I got a really bad haircut,” he said. “I think it was a fun thing to go through because it built real class unity… You’re always hanging out with these guys, and you’re all going through the same head shaving together.”
Here’s how the student newspaper described the haircut ritual:
Freshman Joshua sat in his room working at his computer just like any other weeknight when Chris, a senior rugby player, walked in and said, “Hello.” Joshua shut down his computer and walked out to find twenty of his teammates waiting in his suite.
“You know what we got to do,” the senior told him.
The freshman followed him into the bathroom, took off his shirt and knelt in front of the trashcan. The sound of clippers buzzed in his ear as his teammate took merely seconds to shave his head. With his haircut complete, his teammates took turns writing their names on his chest in permanent marker. To a casual observer, the haphazardly shaved heads and marked up chests closely resemble hazing, but the rugby players quickly point out it is all in good nature.
“We shave interesting designs into people’s heads,” said Kent, the rugby team captain. “It’s a fun thing and it encourages them onto the team. We don’t make it mandatory. If they say no…that’s fine.” Chris, the freshman, rubbing the bristly tufts on his shaven head, said he valued the identity and public recognition that came with being formally initiated onto the rugby team.
“You walk around and you know people are looking at you and they think it looks goofy, but they know who you are,” he said. “It identifies the rugby players.”
The team captain said the few freshmen who refused to get their hair cut told him they wished later they had gone through with the initiation.. The captain said some incoming freshman players had even contacted him at home during the summer vacation and were excited about their upcoming in initiation, wondering when they would get their heads shaved. “It lets people know that we are a part of the rugby team,” he said. “Sure, it doesn’t look good and we’ve got a bunch of skinheads around here, but we’re rugby players. We’re not pretty.”
The rugby team’s faculty adviser agreed that there’s a part he likes about a positive initiation scenario. “Part of me loves the concept of rugby players saying ‘we’re unique, we’re different and there is a little bit of a sacrifice to be one of us.” He commended last year’s captains for joining the freshmen and shaving their heads, too. He said the shaven heads of the two captains showed a collective sacrifice and a sharing of the embarrassment to be seen as one group.
The article above is just one of a great many first-hand accounts of how much fun haircut initiations really are. Surprisingly, the victims say they actually enjoy having people kid them about the humiliating haircuts – because it’s a great way to strike up conversations with total strangers, meet new people, and have fun. I’ll print several more first-hand accounts from victims below, with photos, to answer the anti-hazing reformers who needlessly waste time condemning a totally harmless, enjoyable practice. Here’s another one:
In a 2017 letter to the editor of his local newspaper, he says a recent newspaper article critical of the hazing of high school football players “immediately took me back to a 1947 event that involved me and several friends. We were inducted into our high school’s Block Letter Society in a ritual that could only be described as Hazing 101.” It included forced Mohawk haircuts.
But, disagreeing with the anti-hazing critics, he said in his old age he now has delightful memories of his initiation haircut – because it meant acceptance and bonding with the older players. “That day was truly memorable even though our group of inductees were thoroughly humiliated and subjected to degrading and brutal treatment from our friends because we were found good enough to be included in the Block N Society. The initiation was the realization of a goal we all sought.
“Our initiation included a Mohawk haircut that for some of us was just a butcher job. A couple of guys had beautiful Mohawks, one was shaved bald and mine looked as if my barber was drunk.” Regretfully, he says “the 1947 initiation, to my knowledge, was the last year such haircuts were allowed, probably because the father of one of our initiates was a member of the school board.
“Our mothers were in tears,” he said, but the initiates loved their haircuts. “With our new hairdos we became immediate celebrities at school. Girls who never noticed us paid attention. [Editor’s NOTE: That’s not surprising at all. A lot of women insist there is something powerfully sexy about someone who’s man enough to submit to a humiliating haircut and then has guts enough to wear it openly in public for a week or two. A lot of women say that’s a powerful turn-on.]
The letter continues: “There are two sides to every coin and, on this occasion, our initiation came out ‘Heads Up.’” I think he means “shaved heads up.” Thanks for sharing that great initiation story from long, long ago.
(CONTINUED . . . CLICK HERE TO GO TO "PART TWO -- THE FUN OF INITIATION HAIRCUTS")
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