I mostly have fond memories from my days in high school football. Memories of friends who I hung out with during practice and on the bus rides to different cities for our games. Most of us on the football team got along pretty well, but there were definitely cliques on the team and moving from one cliques to another cliques wasn’t allowed.
I spent each hotel stay and ride on the bus to football games with my best friend. We weren’t considered part of the cool kids club on the team, but we also weren’t part of the group that got singled out and picked on. I can only remember one time where anything that could be compared to bullying happened to us and that was when we were sophomores. A few of the seniors tried to kick us out of our bus seats so that they could have an entire row to themselves, but that didn’t go well because neither of us were scared of the kids who thought way too highly of themselves. Other kids on the team weren’t as fortunate.
There were lots of instances of hazing, but the worst one I can remember happened at a football camp where a kid who didn’t have any friends was tricked into doing the ol’ atomic sit up prank. My friend and I watched from a distance as the kid performed the atomic sit up, which involved the kid’s nose unknowingly being pushed up into another kid’s bare butt. That kid eventually quit the football team, and I can’t blame him for it. That kind of stuff happened a lot, but it shouldn’t have. It isn’t surprising that my high school football team didn’t do all that well on the football field – it was clear we lacked character.
I can’t imagine what it would be like to be in high school nowadays with the internet readily available, where the anonymity that the Internet provides can be used as a weapon. I’m a member of a few Internet fan message boards and the bullying that goes on those sites between adults is concerning, but I can’t imagine how bad high school kids have it.
At a high school in Roosevelt, Utah, Union High School, which was the rival of the high school I attended as a teenager, the football coach suspended his team for Internet bullying. This coach got a report that a student at Union High School was being bullied on the Internet by a few students he believed to be members of the school’s football team.
The coach met with his team and required each player to turn in his equipment and jersey and he basically disbanded the football team. In the meeting, the coach told the players about the Internet bullying and a few other issues they were having from the players being disrespectful to teachers. He told them that they would have to earn their way back onto the football team. Instead of practicing for their upcoming homecoming game, the team instead used each day to provide community service.
This is a coach who gets it. Often time kids get lost in what is really important in life, and that’s easy to understand considering the current state of college football —which has turned into a cesspool of unethical practices. Pulling the kids aside and really sending a message that playing football is a privilege in life and not a right is an important message to send, and hopefully other coaches take note and apply the same lessons to their students.
Photo Credit: Flickr
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