How to Deal with Toxic Social Hierarchies in Sports

Kids being dramatic in a high school drama club? Groundbreaking. 

I was in a drama club during high school, and oh boy did it teach me much more than just how to read basic sheet music and an eight count.

I like to think I give everybody a fair shot when it comes to how I feel about them, but a lot of the things that went down were really over the line. Our club was kind of culty—after every show, we would have a cast party and initiate new members. In theory, this could be passed off as a light-hearted activity, but in practice, it was weaponized to establish a toxic social atmosphere and completely redundant hierarchy. If these initiations were some kind of fun harmless activity, it’d be a different story; but alas zipping a 14-year old into a duffel bag and hitting him with a butter sock probably doesn’t fall into that category.

Obviously, that doesn’t sound too good. As one can assume, my friends and I didn’t get along too well with the individuals who thought doing things like making others eat hair off a donut, for example, was a good idea. The problem was that although those in charge said, “you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to,” taking that route would immediately ostracize you. If you wanted to fit in and feel like part of the team, you had to do what was asked of you; and of course, there’s nothing young high schoolers want more than to feel like a proud member of a team.

So what could I even do about this? Would trying to combat this even be a good idea? Wish I could tell you cause I never tried. Staying to myself and my friends who agreed that this was really messed up was my best bet. Playing into their game was the last thing I wanted to do. 

Many kids find themselves in situations where they are pressured and eventually agree to do things that they really don’t want to be doing. From an evolutionary perspective, it makes perfect sense for those with developing minds to be inclined to fit into a group, as early humans had the best odds of surviving when working together.

It’s important to keep that in mind that not having a kid participate in ANY group activities isn’t a good idea either. Be mindful of those around you and always keep in mind that you’re the captain of your own ship. Even if people try to instigate something, not giving them the emotional reaction they are seeking is the best thing you can do.

Always be mature and respectful to your peers, even when they aren’t to you. The best revenge is living your best life on your own terms.

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“You do not find the happy life, you make it”


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