Sports initiation rituals


Sports initiation can take on many forms and can have positive impacts on cohesion and team spirit, but its more problematic variations can also have negative consequences in situations where a young athlete suffers from an abusive initiation ritual.
But what is an abusive initiation ritual? It is all and any activity than can be potentially humiliating, degrading, abusive or dangerous in which more experienced fellow team members force the recruit to partake in order to earn a place amongst them, but which does not contribute in any way to his or her positive development, whether it is carried voluntarily or not. This includes, without being limited to, all activities, whether seen as trivial or part of the tradition, that put aside or reject a team member based on his or her status, the number of years spent on the team or his or her athletic skills. [11; 47] You should know that all activities that match this definition are considered to be abusive initial rituals even if the young person consents to cooperate or participate.
Always keep in mind that abusive initiation rituals are never acceptable, no matter the reasons!

Positive sports initiation activities Abusive sports initiation rituals


  • To take part in recreational friendly games
  • To do community work in team
  • To organize and take part in a fund-raising activity for the team
  • To organize games during which exchange, cooperation, team spirit and leadership are encouraged
  • To pair a recruit with an older player as a mentor or academic tutor
N.B. : These activities must happen in total respect of the participants’ dignity and integrity. The recruit has to be able to refuse to participate without fear of reprisal.



  • To ask the athlete to undress
  • To force the athlete to take drugs or alcohol
  • To kidnap, tie or abandon the athlete or to isolate him or her in a closed space
  • To yell insults or say mean things
  • To physically threaten the athlete with violence or adverse consequences
  • To simulate or perform sexually connoted acts or sexual acts (kissing, touching private parts, engaging in oral, anal or vaginal sexual relations)
  • To tattoo, pierce or shave part of the athlete’s body
  • To force the athlete to eat things to humiliate him or her (dog food, toilet paper, etc.)


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