Digging into BU's 'Hockey Culture'

By Toni Waterman & Danielle Dreilinger

Feb. 27, 2012

BOSTON — In the uproar over allegations of sexual assaults by two members of the Boston University hockey team, and with university president Robert Brown creating a task force on "hockey culture," some are wondering whether athletes really walk on water over Commonwealth Ave.
Two hockey experts said the reputation is real.
"They do get special treatment, " said sports agent Stephen Freyer. "People are telling them how wonderful they are all the time … sometimes the emotions and the ego get out of control."
Sports psychologist Frederick Neff agreed. He was the Bruins' team psychologist for over 20 years. Star athletes are "given this high level of attention. They're being told to think in ways that are just a little bit different."
And, BU junior Nicole Mallia told WGBH News, "since we don’t have a football team, the hockey team takes the place of that as the 'golden guys' on campus."
Still, Freyer found the allegations shocking because head coach Jack Parker had a reputation for running a tight ship. 
BU Daily Free Press sports reporter Arielle Aronson said the team is "horrified."
"The previous incident had really seemed like an isolated incident," she said. "When you have that second one with charges even more serious than the first time, it seems like, well now, what’s going on with these players? What’s going on with this team that’s causing them to be arrested for very, very serious charges?"
Aronson has traveled with the team for the past three years. Now, she said, "I interviewed one of the players who’s normally pretty talkative and he had trouble looking at me."
She thought the incidents did not reflect a culture of superiority on the hockey team. Instead, she pointed to a bigger issue at the university: drinking.
"It seems that there’s a culture amongst all college students where you go out and you get very, very drunk on nights and when that happens, something bad, something inappropriate is bound to happen," she said.
In fact, Coach Parker attempted to contain that risk by allowing players to drink only one night per week during the season. However, Freyer thought that might do more harm than good.
"To have one night a week where you can theoretically binge … does put an odd stress on that particular night," he said.
> > Coach Parker responds to the second set of allegations and talks about "the problem of control of drinking."

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