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Major League Baseball bans players from dressing up as women with new anti-hazing policy

Toronto Blue Jays rookies wearing embarrassing costumes
Brendan Kennedy | Toronto Star via Getty Images
Toronto Blue Jays rookies wearing embarrassing costumes

The days of rookie baseball players taking a flight as a Disney princess or going out to dinner dressed in a tutu appear to be over.

As part of the latest five-year collective bargaining agreement between Major League Baseball and the players' union, a new anti-hazing and anti-bullying policy was created that will end the practice of "requiring, coercing or encouraging players from dressing up as women or wearing costumes that may be offensive to individuals based on their race, sex, nationality, age, sexual orientation, gender identify or other characteristic," according to The Associated Press.

One of the reasons cited for the new rules was the rise of social media. Whether it could be seen on Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter or Facebook, MLB Vice President Paul Misfud said social media "unfortunately publicized a lot of the dressing up of the players ... those kind of things which in our view were insensitive and potentially offensive to a number of groups."

MLB says it looked at a variety of college anti-hazing policies to help develop what it would choose to prohibit and allow. For example, players may continue to dress up as certain types of superheroes that are nonoffensive.

The policy also clarifies that "a player's actual or perceived willingness to participate in prohibited conduct does not excuse the activity from being considered a violation of the policy."

Several former players have shared their criticisms of the new policy.

Vernon Wells, who played in the league for 15 years until retiring in 2014 reacted with the following tweet.

San Francisco Giants television broadcaster Mike Krukow, a former pitcher, said on KNBR 680 radio, "A lot of these kids come up out of the minor leagues having been there four or five years, they get to the big leagues and they cannot wait to put a dress on. They've heard about this, they want to be a part of it, it's a tradition."

Hudson Taylor, founder of the sport inclusiveness group Athlete Ally, told TMZ: "This is an important step on the pathway to creating a baseball culture in which players are not isolated, excluded or othered because of how they identify or who they love. I commend the leadership of MLB for taking a stand."

In 2013, the National Basketball Association sent a league-wide memo to its teams reminding them that bullying and hazing would not be tolerated. It included a list of physical and nonphysical actions that would violate league policy.

MLB's new policy will go into effect for the upcoming season.