This week, ESPN released a video special about the effects of high school sports hazing on student-athletes.
ESPN’s investigative team spent eight months investigating three hazing incidents, including one involving a California high school football player who said he was sodomized in the locker room by two teammates when he was a freshman. The young man spoke exclusively to the network about his experiences.
ESPN “Outside The Lines” host Bob Ley said ESPN discovered that 1.5 million high school students are hazed each year, with the incidents often involving alcohol and humiliation, a rite of passage to playing on the teams. But, Ley said, hazing has evolved into increasingly sexual and physical attacks, many of which are criminal.
ESPN said fewer than 5 percent of hazing incidents are reported, according to experts, and that Outside The Lines identified more than 40 incidents of violent hazing, which included sodomy, throughout the country.
Hazing is illegal in North Carolina and is a felony. According to ESPN, there has been one incident of sodomy hazing reported in North Carolina since 2011, and that was at McDowell High School in 2015.
Two players were kicked off the team last year after investigators said two 15-year-old students sodomized a third 15-year-old with a broom handle. The incident was reported to the school principal who called the superintendent and local law enforcement.
The teens were charged with misdemeanor assault with a deadly weapon and misdemeanor hazing. One was also charged with felony obstruction of justice after he made attempts to cover up the truth, investigators said.
According to investigators, this type of hazing of first-year players had gone on for several years.
You can watch ESPN’s entire report here.