A graphic for the "Roughhousing" podcast on hazing, from Religion of Sports and PRX.

There’s been a growing amount of attention paid to hazing in sports recently, with a few notable examples from the past few years including New Mexico State men’s basketball, Northwestern football, several high school sports programs, Baylor baseball, and junior and minor hockey. Now, Religion of Sports and PRX are launching a six-part Roughhousing podcast series that will explore the culture of hazing in youth sports.

The series is hosted by producer and reporter Iggy Monda. As per a release, it will “examine the culture of hazing in youth athletic programs around the country and provide in-depth analysis into the rites of passage that can bring young athletes to the brink––emotionally, physically, and mentally–– while questioning how such extremes have come to be so ingrained in American sports.” Its first episode will premiere Thursday, with further episodes following each week for six weeks. Here’s a trailer for it:

Here’s more on Roughhousing from that release:

“Roughhousing” will tell deeply personal stories of young athletes across the country who have experienced violent hazing, beginning with a personal account by Rodney Kim, Jr., who as a freshman at a Mobile, Alabama high school was brutally beaten by his teammates. He suffers from permanent scars, chronic pain, and PTSD still to this day. Along with Rodney, Monda also speaks with individuals who perpetrated the violence to better understand what drove them to these acts and the fine line between fun and abusive initiation rituals. Episodes will also feature the voices of others who have experienced hazing, including a member of a high school girls’ dance team in Oregon and a young wrestler in North Carolina. Monda will also interrogate his own personal experiences in college during a pledge process at a fraternity, to arrive at a complex understanding of his past.

“This series is meant to dispel the ‘boys will be boys’ mantra that tends to be the common excuse for allowing hazing to happen,” said Monda. “Though the subject matter is tough to listen to, the intent of this series is to facilitate more conversations on the potential dangers of hazing and be able to more quickly recognize when it is happening. By sharing these personal accounts at a deeper level, we’re hoping listeners will better understand this trend in youth sports and be empowered to create a safer environment for their children.”

…“We’re proud to partner again with PRX on another audio series, especially on one that sheds light on such an important topic within youth sports culture in America ,” said Adam Schlossman, Executive Producer of Audio at Religion of Sports. “Hazing can be detrimental to young lives, but it usually takes place under a shroud of secrecy. Roughhousing is an up-close exploration of what hazing looks like in high schools today, but also  of the why and how – and whether it is possible to eradicate it  from our schools and our society”

“We’re pleased to partner with the talented producers at Religion of Sports to bring listeners ‘Roughhousing,’” said Jason Saldanha, Chief of Business Development and Content at PRX. “This series will elevate a significant personal and community issue with nuance, integrity, and empathy. We thank listeners for tuning in, and for listening closely.”

This certainly isn’t an easy subject to explore, as Monda notes. But it is an important one. And PRX and Religion of Sports have worked well together in the past on a wide variety of fronts. Those have included tough topics, including False Idol on Oscar Pistorius and Crushed on the MLB steroid era, as well as the interview show In The Moment With David Greene and the sports history show Lost In Sports. We’ll see what this latest collaboration between the companies produces.

[Religion of Sports Presents on Apple Podcasts]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.