A beloved Major League Baseball (MLB) tradition has now come to an end, thanks to a new “anti-bullying” policy. The antics commonly referred to as ” rookie dress up day” have been deemed hazing and potentially offensive to women, homosexuals, and perhaps a whole host of others.
The long-standing MLB ritual occurs near the end of the season and has been considered a right of passage for new baseball players for many years, Fox Sports notes. Major League Baseball rookies have dressed up as Hooters girls, Wonder Woman, and Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders in past seasons, the Daily Mail reports.
Baseball’s new anti-hazing rules target ritual of forcing rookie players to dress up as women https://t.co/g1NJe99Ll6
— The Cut (@TheCut) December 18, 2016
The new MLB policy prohibits “requiring, coercing or encouraging” players from “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.”
“There’s lots of pictures of baseball players dressed up as Disney princesses,” MLB Vice President Paul Mifsud said when discussing how rookie dress up day images end up being passed around on the internet.
The ban on rookie dress up day was influenced, at least in part, “in light of social media, which in our view sort of unfortunately publicized a lot of the dressing up of the players. Those kind of things which in our view were insensitive and potentially offensive to a number of groups,” Mifsud continued.
“Although it hasn’t happened, you could sort of see how like someone might even dress up in blackface and say, ‘Oh, no, we were just dressing up,'” Mifsud said.
“We’ve also understood that a number of players have complained about it.”
The exact origins of MLB rookie dress up day is not known, but many players have reportedly considered the annual event a fun-loving form of bonding. In recent years, the baseball tradition has become more of a coordinated production and garnered a wider range of attention.
— Rincon Sports (@rincon_sports) December 16, 2016
Chase Headley and his fellow rookies with the San Diego Padres dressed up as Hooters girls during a team flight from Denver to Washington in 2008. The baseball players wore the skimpy orange shorts and tight, white tank tops that typically adorn waitresses at Hooters.
The political correctness police has been largely blamed for the end or the rookie dress up day era by fans posting their angst over the new policy on social media.
“Times have changed. There is certain conduct that we have to be conscious of,” baseball union general counsel Dave Prouty said.
“The important thing for us was to recognize there was a policy but to preserve the players’ rights to challenge the level of discipline and the imposition of discipline.”
Rookie players can still dress up together, but there are bans on certain types of costumes. If a baseball player wants to pull on a Spiderman or Batman costume, he can still do so, ESPN reports. It is apparently within the rules to wear tights, just not a skirt.
— Monica Nunez (@Sez_Nez) September 23, 2016
When developing the baseball anti-bullying policy, league officials reportedly reviewed similar sets of guidelines at several colleges. Both current and former players are already lambasting the rookie dress up day ban.
“Seriously?!” former Red Sox star Kevin Youkilis tweeted.
“Had to wear a Hooters outfit going through customs in Toronto and wore it proudly (because) I was in the Show.”
MLB teams often go with a different theme for the annual rookie initiation to the league. In 2007 newcomers on the Yankees’ roster dressed up as characters from the Wizard of Oz. Player Ian Kennedy even wore Dorothy-style red ruby slippers when flying from NYC to a game in Tampa.
“I’d rather be here dressing up than anywhere else,” Kennedy said. “It makes you feel like one of the guys.”
Dodgers’ pitcher, Ross Stripling, posted a photo of himself and fellow players wearing cheerleading uniforms to social media. He captioned the image by saying, “Honored to be one of the last players ever to be dressed up as a woman.”
Last fall, the New York Mets players posted photos and videos of rookies going into a Philadelphia Starbucks wearing uniforms from the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, similar to what the actresses in the 1992 hit movie, A League of Their Own, had worn.
Even if a player or group of players willingly decides to dress up as a woman or in another type of banned costume, the anti-bullying policy has still been violated. The new MLB policy says a player’s “actual or perceived willingness to participate in prohibited conduct does not excuse the activity from being considered a violation of the policy.”
In 2013, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman asked to meet with Major League Baseball officials to discuss what rules they had in place against sexual orientation bullying. The baseball players’ union and MLB ultimately adopted such a policy after meeting with the state official.
The purpose of the policy, according to the document, is not to stop all MLB rookie dress up day activities. The anti-bullying notice states the policy change is 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.”
What do you think about the MLB rookie dress up day ban?
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