In recent news, parents of a Texas school, who got beat 91-0, sued Aledo High School for bullying because of the score line. The claim stems from what the parents construe as a 60 minute “stop-hitting-yourself” marathon in which Western Hills High School was the victim. During the game Aledo High School pulled their starters, ran the clock, and the football. However, this didn’t stop the mother of a Western Hills High School player from filing the bullying complaint. This complaint hasn’t just have seemed to confuse the country, but also confused Western Hills High Schools own coach.
Bullying is a serious problem here in America. 30 percent of children at some point in their lives will be subjected to bullying. Every day children with developing self esteems and personalities are constantly told how their differences and uniqueness are something they should be ashamed of. This shame has led to crushed personalities, numerous counts of depression and suicides. These are not cases of “just punch the kid in the nose” or “ignore them” situations. According to bullyingstatics.org, bullied children are 2-9 times more likely to commit suicide. These are situations that make a child’s waking life constantly uncomfortable and miserable regardless of their disposition. So much so 160,000 children a day stay at home each day to avoid bullying. It is a big problem here in the US and needs to be stopped.
Sports are on a different level. Bullying is targeted mental terrorism. Bullies find this experience rewarding because it improves upon their self esteem. However, how sports are built there is a deeper element to the game. I have been on some great teams, where I had to compete for my spot, and terrible teams, where I was an automatic staple. In both situations you’re forced to play hard. When you’re on a great team it’s nice to win by a big margin because it reaffirms your hard work. However, as bad as being on the other end is, it makes you work harder. Without this element there would be no David vs Goliath. Your self esteem, in this regard, is tied up in the team. You care about what your teammates think of you and working hard for the guy in the trenches next to you. Was the loss a fun for Western Hills? No, but their self esteem is less wrapped up in a result but rather the process and the experience.
Somehow in sports we find big score lines to be detrimental to the winning team. It is looked at as criminal and in the moment you can argue its bully like. However look at the greats. We remember the 16-0 Dolphins but the 52 point win over the Patriots isn’t discussed. We talk about the Tiger Slam and Woods demolishing the field by 15 at Pebble Beach and it is celebrated as one of the greatest sporting achievements of all time. The sports world we live in demands crushing victories. In college football a team has to run up scores to move up in the polls. Goal differential in soccer and hockey is the first tie breaker in most leagues. There is nothing wrong with running up the score, however there is shame in quitting in the middle of the game.
This mother, as good as her intensions may be, is doing more harm than good. Losing (and sometimes losing big) is part of sports and can serve as a good lesson for players on the losing side. This is not bullying, and she is taking a serious issue here in the USA lightheartedly. This isn’t Lazio fans throwing bananas on the field or Tottenham fans being attacked because of their Jewish background. Those are incidents of extreme prejudice that qualifies as bullying due to the large psychological impact it can have on players and fans. However, what happened in Texas is not bullying. Sports overall help self esteem regardless of the outcome. The team building that players get while participating in a sport makes them feel like they belong, not the opposite. Hopefully this parent gets that point before lawsuits like hers destroy junior sports.