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Bullying is a growing epidemic. Not only has bullying expanded to include, cyber bullying; via Facebook, Twitter, and other internet outlets; but we are hearing more tragic examples of coaches and players bullying on and off the field of competition. It is unfortunate and disappointing. There is absolutely NO excuse for calling players derogatory names. However, If you’ve ever had a father or older brother who has said derogatory things to you, did you consider it to be bullying? Many of you would answer “yes.”  Well my older brother would tell you different. My father, asked my older brother to take out the garbage and cut the lawn. He acknowledged my father’s request and continued playing  Nintendo. my older brother didn’t move or attempt to complete the chores asked of him. 45 minutes later, my father chased my older brother out of the house with a piece of 2×4 lumber wood; he looked a lot like Hacksaw Jim Duggan. Once he caught him, my father broke the 2×4 over his butt. For a quick minute I thought it was WWF. I was shocked and confused about what to do. But the one thing I did know. if I didn’t want to be the next Hacksaw Jim Duggan victim. I learned to do what my father asked, when he asked.

I’m not suggesting that you should be allowed to beat children with a 2×4. I am suggesting that my father, whether you feel his actions were right or wrong, disciplined his sons in preparation for adult-hood. I’ve asked myself if my father’s discipline was too hard and/or sometimes messy. I respond by asking a more important question,  “Is life hard and sometimes messy?”  My older brother is now in a wheel chair after receiving a bullet to the neck during a street altercation. Today that 2×4 is a symbol of our father trying to be harder on us than the world would be.

The physical demand in everyday life can’t compare to the demands we place on football players and athletes in general. My little league coach would slap each player 3 times on the helmet. Each slap was to prepare you for the football game collisions. This was also to motivate us and encourage us to be physical. However, if you made a mistake during the game he would grab your face mask, pull his face as close to yours as possible, and yell until you wondered if it was spit or sweat on your nose. Nonetheless, he coached in such a way that may have been perceived as bullying or abuse. But, after I watched my brother get a spanking with a 2×4, I didn’t view getting disciplined by my coach for doing the wrong thing to be bullying.

Coach harder and Smarter:

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Discipline, hard coaching, and tough motivation in the world of athletics, is much different for non’ers. It is understandable how it could be interpreted as bullying. There is a motivational piece to coach a player to run full speed into another player, that comes with a verbal communication that sounds normal to the athlete. However, if you are hearing what is being said, without ever having to preform such an act, why wouldn’t it sound inappropriate to you? The field of athletics isn’t normal; nor is having a human collision on 100 yards of grass, ice or polished pine.

When I was growing up, coaches were an extension of your father. Just as teachers were extensions of our mothers while we were in school. The extension wasn’t mainly for kinship, but more for facilitating discipline. Our views of discipline have changed much in the way that our views of parenting have; and as it should for our coaching practices. Today, many coaches have been accused of bullying their players. I know the difference between right and wrong. what was once acceptable as a coach is now considered bullying or inappropriate. Just like hitting your children with 2X4s today would be excessive. I’m a parent and a coach. I’ve made the decision not to punish my children like my father did, because I’ve evolved. Just as coaches should be evolving everyday.

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