On Friday, November 6, on my radio show Train Your Brain to Up Your Game with Coach Mandy show focused on a few topics hot in youth sports. One of them was whether or not a lopsided game of 91-0 constituted a bullying accusation filed by a parent of the losing team. In doing some research it became apparent the players stayed respectful, showed good sportsmanship, the clock stayed running, and the players even did some things to not score a few times when they could. On the show we discussed there is a difference between one team being over matched due to talents levels and bullying and that the parent filing a formal complaint actually diminished the serious nature of bullying that we do have going on right now. The lopsided win, in my opinion, was not a bullying case, it was an unfortunate mismatch of player abilities and schools that will need to reevaluate their schedules. I wish one team did not have to experience such a loss, but the players weren't targeted, taunted, or ridiculed. It was a bad loss and I wish it didn't happen.
Unfortunately, over the past week a true and serious bullying/hazing situation has come to the surface within the Miami Dolphins organization. Ritchie Incognito was suspended from the Dolphins for bullying fellow player, Jonathan Martin, to the extent Martin left the team due to mental distress. Presently, the NFL is further investigating the situation. There is no place for bullying/hazing in sports and certainly not in our everyday lives.
It is time we started showing more compassion for each other, time to start welcoming others instead of closing doors. Making yourself feel good by hurting someone else, doesn't take away the bullies pain (because that's what they are, in pain or in fear of something) it only brings another person down into an emotionally and sometimes physically distressed state. Bullying is painful, bullying has pushed way too many kids and people to believe they are not good enough to the point they try to commit suicide - with far too many not being saved in time. It has to stop, but it won't. My only hope is a serious story such as this will bring a new light to the seriousness of bullying and that it happens everywhere. Even to big and physically intimidating and strong football players. The size of the person being bullied has no bearing on the pain it internally inflicts. Inside we're all the same size. Inside we all want to be liked, loved, accepted, and know we have value and matter. Usually the bully doesn't feel any of that and when they inflict their words or physical harm on another, the one being bullied certainly doesn't feel it. Yet we all do MATTER, we all do have VALUE, and we are all LOVEABLE.
So the next time you make a joke at someone's expense remember to them it's not funny. The next time you laugh at a practical joke that humiliates another, think of the deeper pain it may be causing. We don't know what is going on inside another and we should never do anything to make ourselves feel better by bringing someone else down. Live with compassion and empathy and together we can all make this a safer, more accepting world.
Mandy Roczniak has more than 23 years of experience in the field of coaching; 20 years as a collegiate softball coach (nine as a DI Head Coach) and three years as a certified life coach. She has mentored and coached high-level athletes throughout her career to help them reach their full potential and attain their athletic, academic, career, and life goals. To learn more about how Mandy can help you reach your full potential, visit www.coachmandy.com