Bullying is real and I hate it, probably more than most people but the word bullying is getting thrown around with no weight and it’s pissing me off. This week the Aledo Texas high school coach Tim Buchanan benched his starters after only 21 plays, kept to a conservative ground game and even allowed the clock to run uninterrupted after halftime to show mercy to the winded Western Hills High School. Still, his Bearcats won 91-0; a complete blowout but not a surprise to anyone who is familiar with the undefeated Aledo High School Football team. Football is serious business in Texas. I thought everyone knew that. Now, Coach Buchanan is facing formal accusations of bullying from a parent of the opposing team! Sounds like sour grapes to me.
Apparently, this Western Hills High School dad doesn’t understand the concept of bullying. Sure, losing is hard to swallow; a shutout even harder but that’s life. We don’t always win. Somebody has to lose if someone else wins. Isn’t that part of the allure of winning; to be the best not the same as everyone else? We’ve coddled our children for so long with non-competitive games and hug it out losses that when someone actually has to lose and it doesn’t feel good, all of the sudden people are throwing tantrums; parents and children alike.
In the complaint, the dad argues that the Aledo coaching staff should have taken steps to end the game quickly and spare the feelings of the Western Hills players. Huh? What’s going to happen to these children when they go into the harsh real world where no one gives a damn about your “feelings”. This father thinks the coach bullied his team by letting his players continue to play. The Western Hills dad said that Aledo wasn’t easing up. They were not. Referees and coaches from both teams agree that Coach Buchanan took steps to contain the score; he played his third string players on the field more than the starters, allowed the clock to run when it normally stopped and was not playing his players tot heir optimum ability. He showed mercy. Should he have just stopped the game and walked off the field because they felt sorry for the losing team? Wouldn’t that have been more insulting? Do we want to teach our children that they can’t do their best or be proud of their accomplishments because someone else’s feelings might get hurt? No!
I understand being upset that you lost and believe me I can imagine that being the losing team in a blowout is embarrassing and not necessarily a boost for your ego but when you’re in the real world, you don’t get ahead and succeed in life by people feeling sorry for you and giving you an easy out. You succeed in life by working hard and keeping at it. When you win you graciously celebrate and when you lose you do that graciously to because nobody respects a sore loser or a cocky winner. We need to let our kids lose once in awhile to appreciate the wins and to learn that they will bounce back. Losing isn’t the end of the world; no matter how shitty it may make you feel at the time.
But accusing a coach for bullying because his team won even after he did all he could to not widen the gap, with the exception of telling his team to throw the game, is straight throwing a tantrum. According to Robyn Silverman on GMA, here is what constitutes bullying:
- An aggressive attack; be it physical, emotional or social.
- An uneven balance of power; for example older/younger or bigger/smaller.
- Consistent; done more than once over a prolonged period of time.
- Deliberate; done with the intention to hurt or harm.
These criteria need to be met to use the term bullying. Stop throwing it around every time you don’t like the outcome of a situation. There are plenty of children who are suffering from real bullying; the kind that scars you and makes you feel alone and alienated with no where to turn. Losing a football game is not one of those situations.
Parents, be an example to your children. If they lose teach them to do it graciously and with resilience. Let them know it will all be all right. If they win, teach them to do it with grace and compassion. Don’t teach them to place blame and be sore losers. And please stop throwing around the word bullying to describe every time you don’t like what someone else is doing.
Do you think this was bullying?