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Jocks Gone Wild?

May 19, 2006

Now sharing space on a Web site near you: Female athletes parading in their sports bras and underwear, a gyrating male stripper giving lap dances to members of a women’s sports team and members of a college baseball team – dressed in lingerie – receiving buzz cuts.

The subjects of the photos, as identified by Bob Reno, publisher of Badjocks.com, are athletes. Welcome to every athletic department press person’s worst nightmare.

Reno typically sticks to humor on his site, which debuted in 2000. But this week, he’s taken it in a different direction. After searching online for photos of apparent collegiate sports initiation rituals from 2003 to 2006, he posted 12 photo albums on Wednesday that he is calling the “Dirty Dozen.”

The athletic teams implicated on the Web site are (in order): Catholic University women’s lacrosse, Quinnipiac University baseball, University of California at Santa Barbara women’s lacrosse, Wake Forest University women’s volleyball, Fordham University women’s softball, Elon University men’s baseball, Fairleigh Dickinson University women’s softball, James Madison University women’s club soccer, Kenyon College men’s baseball, Princeton University cheerleading, Union College women’s soccer and University of Michigan men’s lacrosse.

Reno said his policy is to let college officials know about the photos before they appear on his site. “The schools don’t consider the site serious,” he said.

Maybe so, but they are certainly taking action. Northwestern University suspended its women’s soccer team and is investigating alleged hazing at a party after officials saw pictures posted on Reno’s site. Catholic University is investigating its women’s lacrosse program after photos posted on the Web site show a male stripper at an alleged initiation party. Quinnipiac University is looking into pictures taken of the university’s baseball team spraying whipped cream on a woman lying on the ground.

Elon University has taken disciplinary action against baseball players who violated the university's hazing policies at a party last year, and the athletic department instituted a new policy barring students from posting inappropriate material online (both actions occurred prior to the pictures appearing on Badjocks). Wake Forest has launched an investigation into improper behavior by members of its volleyball team.

Many of those pictured in the photographs are women. In response to the Catholic University photo album, Susan Lipkins, a psychologist who specializes in hazing cases, wrote:  “I believe in women’s liberation, I believe that this is taking equality to an extreme. It is also against the concepts of the women's movement, which taught young women to respect their bodies, and not to treat themselves or others as sex objects.”

On many of the pages, due to a high volume of viewers, the full albums cannot be seen. Reno said his source for photos is webshots.com, a popular, free online photo sharing site often used by high school and college students. “For the most part, kids are real good about labeling the albums themselves,” Reno said. "They will either be wearing T-shirts with their school name or have the photos titled."

Reno said he is glad the albums are attracting attention to his Web site, and he hopes that similar sites will pop up as a result. He said universities merely announcing that the actions go against their hazing policies isn't enough. “The reason to do it is to try to make a difference and elevate the discussion," he said. "If this makes administrators more aware, even if it tells students to stop posting the pictures, I'll be pleased.”

 

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