One of MLB's  first openly gay players explains why its new hazing policy is a big deal.

It's one of baseball's most time-honored traditions: Veteran players making rookies dress up in embarrassing costumes.

Recently, the New York Mets rookies dressed like the women's team from A League of Their Own and fetched coffee for their teammates. A few years back, the Washington Nationals dressed as the U.S. Women's Gymnastics team and rode the train around D.C..

Starting to see a pattern?


This kind of hazing isn't unique to baseball. You see it in other team atmospheres too, from exclusive clubs to fraternities and sororities. It's meant to build camaraderie, to prove that the newbies are willing to put the team ahead of anything else.

But sometimes — OK, a lot of the time — this kind of hazing goes too far and crosses into offensive or dangerous territory.

That's why the MLB just announced a new zero-tolerance policy for all forms of hazing that mine humor at the expense of someone else's gender, religion, race, or sexual orientation.

Billy Bean — a former player of six years, one of the first pro players to come out as gay, and now the MLB's vice president of social responsibility and inclusion — explains what the big deal is:

"We didn't used to take pictures or talk about what we used to do. Now players are posting pictures in the clubhouse in real time ... We need to be cognizant of the 7- and 8-year-olds that have access to your Twitter feed 24/7," he says.

Billy Bean takes a swing. Photo by Billy Bean used with permission.

"If the hazing is disparaging toward women, or the LGBTQ community, or old stereotypes that people used to think were funny about ethnic backgrounds or religious views, that's not funny anymore."

Plenty of players and ex-players have come out against the new policy too, but as far as Bean is concerned, they can suck it up.

"We have an average salary of over $4 million a season," Bean says. "I don't think it's too much to ask of the players to think a little bit before they engage in this tradition."

The league isn't out to be the fun police. Bean says there are plenty of friendly initiations that don't send a harmful message.

He says the New York Yankees rookies recently dressed up as "the baby bombers," an ode to their reputation as a young team full of powerful sluggers.

"That wasn't mean-spirited," he says. "It was creative. It was funny."

The bottom line? No one should be forced to do anything they truly don't want to do.

Since the news, many players have come out in support of "the old way of doing things," which is disappointing to some. But league officials say a lot of other current players are glad about the changes and had complained about being forced to dress in offensive costumes.

This move by the MLB certainly doesn't mean pro sports culture is "fixed." There are currently no active MLB players who openly identify as gay, for example, and the odds of that being the case are astronomically low.

But this new policy is a small step — however small — in the right direction.

Albert Einstein

One of the strangest things about being human is that people of lesser intelligence tend to overestimate how smart they are and people who are highly intelligent tend to underestimate how smart they are.

This is called the Dunning-Kruger effect and it’s proven every time you log onto Facebook and see someone from high school who thinks they know more about vaccines than a doctor.

The interesting thing is that even though people are poor judges of their own smarts, we’ve evolved to be pretty good at judging the intelligence of others.

“Such findings imply that, in order to be adaptive, first impressions of personality or social characteristics should be accurate,” a study published in the journal Intelligence says. “There is accumulating evidence that this is indeed the case—at least to some extent—for traits such as intelligence extraversion, conscientiousness, openness, and narcissism, and even for characteristics such as sexual orientation, political ideology, or antigay prejudice.”

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'Merry Christmas' on YouTube.

The world must have been—mostly—good this year. Because Elton John and Ed Sheeran have teamed up to gift us all with a brand new Christmas single.

The song, aptly named “Merry Christmas,” is a perfect blend of silly and sweet that’s cheery, bright and just a touch bizarre.

Created with the holiday spirit in every way, it has whimsical snowball fights, snow angels (basically all the snow things), festive sweaters, iconic throwbacks and twinkling lights galore. Plus all profits from the tune are dedicated to two charities: the Ed Sheeran Suffolk Music Foundation and the Elton John AIDS Foundation.

I personally don’t know which is more of a highlight: Ed Sheeran channeling his inner-Mariah, performing a faux sexy dance in a leg revealing Santa outfit, or him flying through the air with a giant Frosty the Snowman … who seems to be sporting glasses similar to Elton’s. Are we meant to believe that Elton is the Snowman? This music video even has mystery.
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