Bullying and Sports

Exploring the connection between adults abusing kids in sports and bullying in the schools.

elderabuse,jpgA study at Indiana University back in 2012 looked at the impact of masculinity and bullying within football culture. (see: http://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/football-boys-bullying-connection-0130123/ for a synopsis of the findings)

This study found a connection between masculine norms and bullying. Basically, the more an individual adheres to what they consider to be a masculine norm, the more likely they are to bully, and to also be depressed, have low self-worth and have other problems. Basically, encouraging a gender norm is a recipe for psychological harm.

Anyway, this study also found that the biggest predictor of whether any given student turned into a bully was whether they had a masculine role model who modeled bullying. Which brings us to bullying coaches. Coaches who bully create players who bully.

And this is a shame because bullying, is not a good coaching technique. In fact, it’s incredibly counterproductive. (see this fabulous essay http://www.selfgrowth.com/articles/Help_My_Coach_is_a_Bully_The_Consequences_of_Verbally_Abusive_Coaching.html by John Schinnerer, Ph.D.)

The problem, as Mr. Schinnerer points out, is that “many coaches are still operating as if the training methods used in the Soviet Union in the 1970’s are state of the art.”

Here’s why as a parent, you should not put your child on a team where the coach is a bully. Bullying causes ptsd. Bullying does not build them up or create strength. It breaks them down and causes lasting psychological harm. Even if your child has potential to make a professional career out of a sport, they still will do better to have a coach that actually knows how to coach well, instead of one who makes up for their own flaws by being abusive.

The other reason is because if we are going to break the bullying cycle, we need to put our kids in the care of adults who model effective management and conflict resolution skills, not bullying.

Let’s be real. Most of our kids are not going to become Olympic athletes. You have the ability and the right to be choosy. Do not tolerate a bullying coach. Your child and the rest of us will thank you.


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