Is there a connection between school sports and bullying?

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Is there a connection between school sports and bullying?

Post by Earl on Tue Apr 23, 2013 5:54 am

About two or three years ago, a sports fan (specifically, an athletic teenage girl in high school, if I remember correctly) left an antagonistic message in the "Guestbook" feature of Ray's website. She was a "hit and run" poster -- which means she didn't have the courage of her convictions to express her views in the forum, where she would have had to deal with * gasp * a rebuttal. The tone of her snide message was even threatening. pale Rolling Eyes Mr. Green! Wink Hence, the title of this thread: Is there a connection between school sports and bullying?

I dare say this issue has been all but ignored by the advocates of mandatory P.E. (specifically, those who are opposed to the reform of P.E. for the purpose of providing genuine fitness programs for the nonathletes instead of subjecting them to the usual humiliation, neglect, and bullying) and sports fans in general. If anyone can find an online article written by a P.E. instructor that deals with this issue, I'd love to see it. I'm serious. But I think one making such a search would not have much luck.

As for what I believe, yes, I believe there is a great deal of bullying connected with school sports. In fact, I believe more bullying takes place in junior high and high school gyms than in all the academic classes combined. (Notice I didn't mention the bullying that takes place between classes, before and after school, and in the cafeteria during lunch.) No, I don't believe the connection between school sports and bullying is inherent. I don't believe merely tossing a ball is going to turn a teenage boy into a bully, especially one whose parents have raised him to be a decent human being who doesn't bully others simply because they are different from him. But I do think there is a culture associated with school sports that does encourage bullying. You call it machismo. As I've said before, two friends of mine who played football on the same team when we were in high school recently told me that most of their teammates had regarded the nonathletic guys at their school as inferior. One of them also said he never saw a more insecure group of guys than many of the guys on his team. He said they were always trying to "prove" their masculinity over and over again, often at the expense of other guys who weren't even on the team.

Anyway, when a group of people are denigrated and devalued, mistreatment invariably follows. (You don't believe me? Just take a look at the history of the human race regarding minority groups, people of different religions, etc.) When nonathletic boys are viewed as being inferior, the next step is bullying; and it's a very small step to take. We're talking culture -- which is not immutable, but can be changed (although at a very slow pace).

So, there you have it. Some people, such as the rude twerp who posted in the old Guestbook, believe there is absolutely no connection between school sports and bullying, that the culture of school sports is utterly wholesome and beneficial to all. Well, fortunately, the Internet has given a forum -- namely, the opportunity to express their point of view -- to those who have historically been ignored by the media, such as nonathletic boys who were bullied in mandatory P.E. classes that were centered exclusively around sports. Those who experienced (or continue to experience) bullying connected to sports in one way or another are free to speak out. No doubt many sports fans would have them shut up. Well, that ain't going to happen.

The thought occurred to me months ago that I ought to start a topic in which I would copy and paste messages -- testimony, if you please -- in the form of posts submitted by individuals in various capacities to prove my assertion that there is, indeed, bullying connected with school sports. I intend to post such messages one at a time every few days or so, beginning with the post I've copied and pasted below. To provide any context that might be needed, I will also post a link to the webpage where the post may be found.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/16/adam-lanza-abused-sandy-hook_n_3086468.html?1366134794&icid=maing-grid7|main5|dl3|sec1_lnk3%26pLid%3D299501
Victoryin2008 wrote:

While I agree with most of what you said, that is not the whole story. I speak from experience. My grandson attempted suicide after 3 years of bullying throughout middle school. He is a wonderful, smart and funny guy, but he committed the sin of being a little different. He wasn't interested in sports (in a school where sports were the revered), was very bright and extremely articulate, and loved wearing a shirt, tie and jacket (a federal crime in middle school). He was abused unmercifully. The verbal abuse escalated to physical abuse and violent sexual threats (both verbal and on the internet). His parents documented every incident and approached the school dozens of times in an attempt to stop this. NOTHING WAS EVER DONE. Finally, after his suicide attempt, police involvement and threats of lawsuits...the bullying was stopped. My grandson is a different person now, his grades are excellent again, and is no longer afraid of going to school. Why should it take a suicide attempt, police involvement and threats of lawsuits to stop something so obviously harmful??

Notice what happens when sports are "revered." So, nonathletic boys aren't bullied? Yeah, sure. Rolling Eyes


Last edited by Earl on Wed Apr 24, 2013 2:40 am; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Is there a connection between school sports and bullying?

Post by Earl on Tue Apr 23, 2013 11:53 pm

Yes, I once posted this message in the old forum several years ago; but it bears repeating in this new forum.  

http://www.bullyonline.org/cases/case97.htm
When I entered the seventh grade I loved football. Unfortunately I was small for my age and could not play, so I signed up to be the equipment manager. I enjoyed being with the team and working to keep things running smoothly. Of course, I didn’t know what I know now: adults often live vicariously through children and teenagers.

I didn’t know it when I started, but the coaches despised me. First it began with a few comments about my size or lack of strength. Then the harassment began with a few of the players and the other managers. The worst occurred one day when I had been sent into the supply closet to sort equipment. I was working alone when suddenly two players and three other managers came in. Normally, they would be out at the practice…they had been sent in to me. One grabbed me, the others helped place me into a large equipment bag. The top was held shut while I struggled to get free. It seemed everyone began to kick me so I curled up in the fetal position to wait it out. It seemed like forever and I can remember to this day the kicks and the laughter and the names being yelled at me. Suddenly the bag was loose and I freed myself. To my surprise, practice had ended. The players were filing by laughing and the coach stood over me saying, “We need to toughen you up.” He had watched and condoned the event.

From that day on, I was not safe in the locker room at school. I avoided football practice by intentionally getting detention or by making up excuses to miss. I had always been taught to be dependable and to respect my teachers. I felt I had no where to turn. I could not escape because the coach was also my PE teacher.

This coach would continue to harass me. I remember the PE classes where myself and other small kids would be made fun of in front of everyone. “Don’t cry” was the only advice I would give myself, waiting to get home to cry, knowing my tears would only be fuel for this coach. This coach liked to single kids out each day with a game. We would play some sort of group game where the winners could return to the locker room one by one, leaving the loser for the end. This last would be called the “Greenie Weenie” and his name would be placed on a chalkboard for everyone to see. I remember how hard I would try to avoid being last. On one particular day, I tried as hard as I could and actually came in second to last. I wasn’t the last!!! The coach just looked at me and said, “You are always the greenie weenie” and wrote my name on the board as he laughed.

I think what bothers me the most is that all this still affects me. I am respected in my field. I am well thought of, have a nice family, etc, but these memories attack me all over again. I have more education than this man. I am more accomplished, yet just his memory seems to have power to put me down again and again.

What have I drawn from this? I believe children need to be taught to be honest. Teachers should be respected but children need to know that adults, even trusted ones, can hurt. These teachers should be reported immediately. Parents who raise concerns and children who report such things should not be viewed as troublemakers or disrespectful. Of course the biggest question is how is someone like this left unsupervised or unnoticed. School officials need to learn that the safety of the kids in the school is THEIR responsibility.


Last edited by Earl on Sat Nov 22, 2014 4:38 am; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Is there a connection between school sports and bullying?

Post by Earl on Wed Apr 24, 2013 2:19 am

Yes, I know that I had said I would post in this topic once every few days or so; but here I am posting twice on the same day.  I guess I will be a bit erratic from time to time, but this topic will continue as long as I or any other member finds online accounts of individual instances of sports-related bullying.  The following item is a post (No. 128) that was submitted in an old topic at www.democraticunderground.  In order to provide the reader an opportunity to read the full context in which this post was submitted, I've also provided a link to the webpage where the topic is available.

Again, has the issue of the bullying of nonathletic boys in mandatory P.E. classes centered exclusively around sports ever been discussed by the sports media, sports psychologists, or professors of any college or university's "Physical Education" (or whatever they're calling themselves these days) Department?  The answer is painfully obvious and speaks volumes!

Lerkfish wrote:7's point, although conjecture, does bring up a valid issue...

(even if it turns out to be irrelevant in this particular case) the issue being that crimes committed by sports players are more likely to be covered up by administrators than crimes by other students.

Witnessed it myself many times. The old "boys will be boys" defense for cover ups. I saw a lot of behavior from sports players that were not only bypassed by normal discipline procedures, but in some cases, encouraged by faculty as they occurred. I personally witnessed the football team grab a "geek" in the shower after gym, do a "dogpile" on him and force him to the team's jocks over his mouth and face while being taunted with various homophobic slurs. The coach was not only a witness, he was orchestrating it. The only reason he finally stopped it was because he realized having 8 heavy guys on your chest and jocks stuffed in your face was probably preventing the kid from breathing.
Unless some discipline happened behind the scenes, I never saw any punishment against the students involved.


Of course, I'm 46, so I would have hoped that situation no longer happens, but I would not be surprised if it continues.

7's point is that sports players are wrongly accorded a select set of looser behaviour rules compared to regular students.

By the way, I've wondered if this geek is still alive today.  What happened to him was horribly demeaning, and almost sounds like rape.  Perhaps he was even too ashamed to tell his parents when he got home that day.  He was even betrayed by an adult authority figure; namely, the coach!  I wonder what it was like for him to carry the memory of this utterly degrading humiliation, this trauma for decades.  I wonder if his health was adversely affected in the long run and he came down with a serious health problem as a result that shortened his life.  Oh, well, it's not really important!  Who cares about the geek?  After all, sports reign supreme in this country; and the prime mission of a high school is to have a winning football team.  Nothing else matters.  Who cares if any other young person is crushed by one or more of the players?  They're not important.  Go, team, go!


Last edited by Earl on Sat Nov 22, 2014 4:39 am; edited 2 times in total

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Re: Is there a connection between school sports and bullying?

Post by Earl on Fri May 10, 2013 11:01 pm

Sorry I'm so late . . . What a jerk I am! Embarassed (I've been preoccupied by real life away from the keyboard, you see. Wink )


http://bully-stories.com/a-story-of-bullies-punished/
A Story of Bullies Punished
submitted by Michael D & filed under Bullied In The Past
posted on Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

This is a true story with only the names changed to protect my identity. I entered 8th grade in the fall of 1969. Eighth graders were thrown in with grades 9 through 12 in my high school. I lived in a Southern town outside of Atlanta where Friday night football reigned supreme.

Everyone was required to take Physical Education (P.E.) in 8th and 9th grades. Jocks and the academically less inclined frequently opted to take P.E. past the two required years as an easy elective. Grades 8 through 12 were mixed together in P.E. classes. There would be approximately 60 boys in one P.E. class, which would be divided into two sections, each with a football coach as teacher. We would change in a large locker room and then wait for the coaches to show up. They would show up occasionally, take roll, and maybe make us run laps. The coaches normally came very late to class, if they came at all. The older students would spend the period bullying the younger ones.

My 5th period P.E. class met every day after lunch. It had a group of juniors who played varsity football. They would come into the locker room, select a non-athletic 8th grader at random, and drag him down to the varsity football locker room at the end of the hall. I do not know for sure what went on down there, but there were be screaming and sometimes crying followed by the naked victim running down the hall to the showers. His belly would be bright red, a so called “cherry belly” or “slap belly” caused by slapping. His buttocks would bear the bright red marks of a belt. His testicles would be covered in a heating gel used by athletes to treat sore muscles. The victim would be running to the shower or sink to wash off the gel which burned intensely on sensitive skin.

The bullies love those who resisted, and they delighted most in the ones who cried. I remember one boy I will call “Billy.” He was mentally and physically disabled. Today I think he would probably be excused from a P.E. class, but this was a less enlightened era in a very backwards, rural part of the USA. Billy was short, weak, and skinny. He was in remedial courses and struggled academically. His family was poor, and he wore outdated, threadbare, ill-fitting clothes. He would begin crying when the bullies showed up to select their victim. He was bullied throughout the school day, but he suffered the most in that P.E. class.

Even though I was not an athlete, I was protected because the quarterback (QB) of the football team lived in my neighborhood, and his parents knew mine. When the bullies came for me a couple of times, the QB said, “Not him.” Even though the QB was not involved in the hazing, he had veto power over the selection of victims.

Despite my protected status, I dreaded P.E. I was bullied some, but I was spared the worst treatment. No one dared tell. The coaches did not care. I suspect they even knew about it. The football coaches and players were demigods in the town. I knew that no one would do anything, and terrible retribution would fall upon anyone who dared to tell. My older brother told me that this group of junior football players had been doing this form of hazing since their freshman year.

One day in English class, a student said something very negative about the Vice Principal (VP) who was in charge of discipline. The teacher spoke up in the VP’s defense and said something about how fair and honorable a man the VP was. I did not know the VP, but I greatly respected this teacher. I went home that afternoon and called the school office. I asked to speak to the VP. I told him what was happening in the P.E. class. He told me he would look into it the first thing in the morning. He then said, “I will need to know your name. I promise you that I will never reveal your identity to anyone, not even the coaches. I will just say that there have been several complaints.” I told him my name.

After I hung up, it occurred to me that I should give him names. I called him back, and named the eight students who had done the bullying and about seventeen students who had been bullied. He was writing down the names of the students. He would ask me to repeat or spell names. He had been very calm, professional, and matter-of-fact over the phone. His demeanor inspired my confidence in him. When I mentioned the name of Billy, he gasped. I then paused to describe in vivid detail Billy’s weeping and the bullies’ mockery of his pain and suffering. As I gave the rest of the list, there was a stunned silence on the other end of the line. When I finished, he said, “I will discuss this with the principal at once, and I will call in the coaches this afternoon after practice.” He then reassured me once again that he would never reveal my identity.

When I went to P.E. the next day, the bullies were running around frantically telling those who had been bullied that they were not to reveal what had happened to them. They said, “If you think what happened before was bad, what will happen to you for talking will be far worse.” The bullies were trying to concoct a story about how they were only playing around and no one had been hurt. One of them suggested that they say they had only tickled the underclassmen.

I think the bullies had been alerted to the investigation because two of the bullies – the first two on my list – had been called out at the end of lunch period. One by one, the bullies were called out of the P.E. locker room. An office aid would come to the door of the boys’ locker hall and call out a name. Five minutes later the process would be repeated. Once a bully left, he did not return. They were called out in the exact order I had listed them. I do not know who was questioning them, what they were being asked, or what they were saying. I do not know if any of those on my listed of bullied had been questioned. I tried to keep a low profile. Because I had not been bullied, I was not suspected as the source.

The next day, the coaches came to P.E. class on time. I suspect that the coaches had gotten into big trouble. The class was divided into teams to play flag football, except for the bullies. The bullies were forced to do pushups, sit-ups, wind sprints, and banks (sprinting up a very steep hill) over and over for the entire P.E. period. Then they had to report to football practice after school. I heard they had to do additional exercises after football practice. This went on for a week. They were miserable. I could tell they were very unhappy.

Each day as the bullies were being punished, the VP stood on the top of the hill overlooking the athletic field. I vividly remember him in his tie and dress shirt, wearing sunglasses, his arms crossed across his chest or resting on his hips, stains under his arms from the September heat in the Deep South. To me, he personified justice. Someone in my P.E. class asked, “Why is the VP there?” Someone else answered, “To make sure the coaches don’t go easy.”

The bullies swore that they would find out who had reported them. They said that they would take him to a remote cabin and torture him to death over the course of days. The body would never be found, or if was found, it would be too mutilated to be identified. For these reasons, I waited twenty years before I told my story to anyone. The hazing that had gone on for over two years ended the day that I made those phone calls. Bullying continued, but not on the same organized and extreme scale.

The VP died a few years later. Many came forward to say what a brave and honorable man he was. I wish I had been able to tell my story then.

Today I do not fear or hate those particular bullies. I do despise all bullies I meet in my life, and I hope I will always have the courage of the VP. Bullies do not have the power over my life they way the did at one time.

I will, however, always be haunted by the memory of Billy. I clearly remember his weeping and pleas for mercy being met with mockery and derision. If a society is judged by the treatment of its weakest members, then that was one sick society.

I tried to track down Billy years later. He had fallen off the grid if he was ever on it. I pray that, wherever he may be, his blessings in his later years were great enough to compensate somewhat for the terrible suffering he endured in high school. If he no longer walks the face of the earth – and I suspect this is so because he was so very weak and sickly – may he find in the next life the mercy that was denied to him in this one.


This sort of story would never be published in Sports Illustrated or any of the other organs of that propaganda mill known as the sports media.






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Re: Is there a connection between school sports and bullying?

Post by Snesgamer on Wed Sep 25, 2013 5:38 pm

There is indeed a connection between school sports and bullying.

School sports create a sort of class system no matter how closely they are monitored. Jocks are routinely deified and set apart as being more special than other students, cheerleaders are by default almost set aside to be the girlfriends or screw-toys/properties of the jocks, etc... It's quite sickening, and more like a strange cult system if you think about it.

Because interscholastic sports have been set as the default measuring stick of a school, schools will often protect and defend their athletic departments sooner than they will even their science or history/English ones. Discipline will be lax on the athletes, and teachers have been known to cheat for them to bypass their grade requirements.

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Re: Is there a connection between school sports and bullying?

Post by Earl on Thu Sep 26, 2013 2:07 am

I agree with you, except to say that we should always be ready to recognize individuals who defy the negative stereotypes of this depressing caste system.  I have two close friends who played football in high school and never bullied anyone.  One of them went on the play at the collegiate level at the university where he earned his degree in sociology.  Today he's a feminist who has been critical of the sports culture.  They're both gentle men.

On the other hand, just a few years ago a childhood friend of mine who had played football at his own high school in our district told me that "most" (his word, not mine) of his teammates had looked down on all the nonathletic guys as being inferior.  Incidentally, this childhood friend of mine was not playing the "sour grapes" routine.  He's still a football fan today to the point of being slightly obnoxious about it.  Another friend of mine who played on the same team said he never saw a group of guys who were more insecure about their masculinity.  He said they were always trying to prove their masculinity over and over again, usually at the expense of guys who weren't even on the team.  Of course, this is precisely the sort of issue that would never be discussed in the sports media, most of whose outlets are nothing more and nothing less than a propaganda mill whose intent is to turn as many people as they can into sports fans.  Forgive the rant. Mr. Green! 

I could say a lot more about the "jockocracy," but this is enough for now.  I admire individual athletes who are decent, but I don't have much use for the arrogant jerks and the thugs.

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Re: Is there a connection between school sports and bullying?

Post by Snesgamer on Thu Sep 26, 2013 5:30 pm

Earl wrote:I agree with you, except to say that we should always be ready to recognize individuals who defy the negative stereotypes of this depressing caste system.  I have two close friends who played football in high school and never bullied anyone.  One of them went on the play at the collegiate level at the university where he earned his degree in sociology.  Today he's a feminist who has been critical of the sports culture.  They're both gentle men.

On the other hand, just a few years ago a childhood friend of mine who had played football at his own high school in our district told me that "most" (his word, not mine) of his teammates had looked down on all the nonathletic guys as being inferior.  Incidentally, this childhood friend of mine was not playing the "sour grapes" routine.  He's still a football fan today to the point of being slightly obnoxious about it.  Another friend of mine who played on the same team said he never saw a group of guys who were more insecure about their masculinity.  He said they were always trying to prove their masculinity over and over again, usually at the expense of guys who weren't even on the team.  Of course, this is precisely the sort of issue that would never be discussed in the sports media, most of whose outlets are nothing more and nothing less than a propaganda mill whose intent is to turn as many people as they can into sports fans.  Forgive the rant. Mr. Green! 

I could say a lot more about the "jockocracy," but this is enough for now.  I admire individual athletes who are decent, but I don't have much use for the arrogant jerks and the thugs.
I definitely make exceptions.

I'm not like some anti-sports people who fly into a rage against people they've discovered touched a football at some point in their life, I think that's as unhealthy as sports fanatics that automatically assume people who hate sports are losers - I judge each person according to their character.
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Re: Is there a connection between school sports and bullying?

Post by Big Fat Heretic on Thu Sep 26, 2013 11:25 pm

Welcome to our I hate Sports forum.

Sorry I didn't respond sooner, but I've been making preparations toward my 62ed birthday, this coming September 30th.


Snesgamer wrote:I'm not like some anti-sports people who fly into a rage against people they've discovered touched a football at some point in their life . . . etc. etc.
Well, actually . . . . . if a football landed in my yard, I would get long tongs to pick it up, and put it in a lead box and close it, and call the Feds to properly dispose of it.

OK, just kidding! Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy 

But, yeah, I really do hate sports a lot!

Anyway . . . . .

Welcome to our forums.
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Re: Is there a connection between school sports and bullying?

Post by Skul on Fri Sep 27, 2013 3:13 pm

You know, I think I recognise that name. I'm 99% sure there was a user named Snesgamer on the old forums.

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Re: Is there a connection between school sports and bullying?

Post by Snesgamer on Fri Sep 27, 2013 9:14 pm

Skul wrote:You know, I think I recognise that name. I'm 99% sure there was a user named Snesgamer on the old forums.
Yup! I'm an old-timer that kind of drifted away from the old forum because of the lack of activity. I'm glad people have made a new forum, though!
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Re: Is there a connection between school sports and bullying?

Post by Big Fat Heretic on Sat Sep 28, 2013 7:12 am

Snesgamer wrote:
Skul wrote:You know, I think I recognise that name. I'm 99% sure there was a user named Snesgamer on the old forums.
Yup! I'm an old-timer that kind of drifted away from the old forum because of the lack of activity. I'm glad people have made a new forum, though!
In the old "Sports Sucks" forum, I went by the user name Fat Man.

I had registered back in February 12,2009 and that was on the 200th birthday of Charles Darwin.

Yeah, that's how I can remember when I registered.

The year 2009 was a very special year for me, because, in August of 2009 I celebrated the 400th anniversary of Galileo's telescope!

The year 2011 really sucked for me, because that was the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible.

Sorry 'bout that! But, I just had to say it!

Then, when the old forum went down, I registered on this new forum back in December 25,2012 and decided to change my user name to Big Fat Heretic, which is also my user name on YouTube.

Yeah! I had about 4,950 posts in the old forum, and I was trying to hit 5,000 posts before it went down, but the old forum went down earlier than we all thought it would.

I had the highest number of forum posts.

No brag, just fact.
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Re: Is there a connection between school sports and bullying?

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