Practical Joke – USA

Practical Joke—USA

“During the first day of practice on the varsity Ice Hockey team at Scarsdale High School, the seniors stole all of the freshman equipment (during a team meeting) and hid it in a closet at the rink.  When the freshman saw that their gear was gone, the upperclassmen acted clueless and suggested that it was stolen.  Finally, right before practice began, the seniors brought the equipment back and everyone found the whole ordeal hilarious.”
I first learned about this practice joke when it was performed on me during my first practice, freshman year.  Unfortunately for me, everyone had me and the other 3 freshman on the team convinced to the point that we were all extremely upset that our equipment had been stolen.  The practical joke was believable because the four of us had all put our equipment in the same locker room, right next to the entrance of the rink.  The rink is located in a somewhat dangerous and crime ridden section of town, and it was therefore believable that someone might have come in quickly and stole our stuff without being seen.  Furthermore for us freshman, it was our first practice on a varsity team and all of us were nervous, not knowing what to expect.  We had been warned that the first practice would be physically difficult, but there were all kind of stories that went around about freshman getting abused during their first varsity practice.  Fortunately, that was not the case.  But the upperclassmen certainly scared us all.

This practical joke occurs virtually every year from what we were told.  While nobody knows exactly which senior class started it, the tradition is kept alive year after year.  This is a great example of folklore because it supports Von Gennup’s theory, which recognizes the importance of practical jokes as a right of passage (Lecture 2/7/08).  He noted that practical jokes were usually present during the liminal period of someone’s life; a life transition like a marriage or initiation to a team or society.  The rational behind this is that you know that you are a member of this “group” when you know the practical jokes that have been played on everyone else.  Just as Von Gennup theorized, the practical joke that was played on myself and the other freshman came during our liminal period, when we were in the process of becoming members of the team.  After the joke was played on us, we now expect it and are “part of the team.”