Bullying in Sports

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

Bullying occurs in school, in the workplace, and even at home. Bullying also occurs in sports. This lesson teaches you about how it manifests itself there and what parents can do about it.

What Is Bullying?

Little Timmy is in 7th grade. His favorite sport is soccer. He plays with his team a couple of times a week, practices almost every day, and loves the sport. However, his parents notice that he's not really happy. They ask him what's troubling him. It turns out, it has to do with bullying.

Bullying is aggressive behavior (often recurrent) where the aggressor (bully) behaves in a threatening or abusive manner that makes the victim feel powerless and/or hurt.

Bullying Vs. Competition

First, let's address the issue of competitiveness vs. athletic bullying. Competition, in moderation, can be a very good thing as it can teach you valuable lessons on how to succeed and how to train to become better at your favorite sport. Bullying is very different though. Let's say you are playing football. It's obvious that in football your job may be to tackle another player. That's competition. You're playing within the rules of the game. But if you tackle with the intent to injure the player so they miss the rest of the season or even a few games in order to give yourself or your team an advantage, that's no longer competition. That's outright physical athletic bullying.

Bullying In Sports

Back to Timmy.

Little Timmy's parents ask him about what kind of bullying he has experienced. It turns out there is more than one kind. First, it started with verbal bullying. Timmy says he was called all sorts of demeaning names, he was taunted, and then he was eventually threatened with harm. All of those are examples of verbal bullying. Unfortunately, those verbal threats became real and he was purposefully tripped by other players, some of his teammate snapped towels at him, others hit him and even head butted him. These types of behaviors are examples of physical bullying.

That wasn't all though. Timmy describes that what hurt him the most was that he was purposefully excluded by his teammates from parties or trips the team took as a group after school. He later found out there was a lot of gossip going on behind his back too. Some of his teammates even refused to talk to him for no apparent reason. These are examples of relational bullying.

Stopping Bullying In Sports

Little Timmy's parents are really saddened to hear about this, but they definitely want to take action to help him. One of the most important things the parents did was listen to little Timmy. Listening helps the child relieve a lot of stress, since they know someone is paying attention. Parent should also be supportive and non-judgmental. They shouldn't minimize the child's experiences nor ignore them.

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