Saturday, September 20, 2014

Bullies On and Off the Playing Field

Our society is sending mixed messages about bullies.  A couple of decades ago we “discovered” elementary and middle school bullies and the damage they were doing to our kids.  So we started spending money trying to stop it.  Non-profits were formed; curriculum was developed; kids’ books were written; in-service sessions were held; hall monitors were instructed.  In some places police officers were placed in the schools.  All with the goal of decreasing or eliminating bullying behavior in schools and on the buses.
Bullying behavior?  That’s name calling, pushing, hitting, intimidating another kid or taking away something that was his or hers.  But there are exceptions.  On the ball field or in the hockey rink pushing, hitting, intimidating and stealing are expected, encouraged even.  And we expect the kids to keep the boundaries straight – rewarded here, punished there.

As those kids become adults and some of them stay on the football field or in the hockey rink, the rewards get even bigger.  For some the result of pushing everyone else out of the way, grounding the other guy, and stealing the puck or the ball is some really big money.  We still expect them to keep the boundaries straight.  It is okay to hit the quarterback really hard, but not your girlfriend or your four year old.  It is okay to take the ball away from the other team’s offense, but not the electronics from Walmart.  It is okay to intimidate the other team’s defense to get what you want, but not your girlfriend.  

It seems simple enough doesn’t it?  But some of the best players, those who have learned how to be the best bullies, just don’t seem to get it.  I’m just saying.  What do you think?


  1. From Danny Jaekel via email:
    I think for most people playing pro football and raising children without violence can be done without particular problems. Likewise at childhood, differences between sports behavior and civilian behavior are apparent, especially with proper parental teaching.

    A hysteria has been developing, which is now engulfing the NFL, because there are occasions when parents are violent with children. This apparently has led to governmental mandates which require parents to be guilty until proven innocent whenever anyone, including 3 or 4 year olds make an accusation. It has been clearly demonstrated that young children will make things up out of thin air, not necessarily with the intention of lying. I know of cases when this has led to near destruction of families which did no more than God Himself affirms in scriptures.

    Of course, to beat up a child is never acceptable.

    yours, Danny

  2. Danny, thanks for your comment.

    You may know that I was in the child protection business for about 20 years. The most frequent criticism of child protection agencies is that that they did not move quickly enough or aggressively enough to protect a child and the child was subsequently seriously hurt or killed.