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Bullying Has No Place in Sports

Cheerleaders – synonymous with peppy, supportive and positive – or so you might think. But you hear more and more about those in the sport who bully other members of their teams by making insensitive, hurtful and harmful remarks – and even threats.

Some situations are so difficult that athletes feel they have no alternative but to change gyms and programs so they can get away from bullies.

Bullies Work Against Team

Absolutely nothing about the word TEAM aligns with bullying. In fact, it is quite the opposite.

  • A team works together | Bullies are me-obsessed.
  • Team members have each other’s backs | Bullies stab other athletes in the back.
  • Team members support each other and collaborate for improvement of all | Bullies are absorbed in themselves and self-serving goals.

This is a true but anonymous story from a cheerleader who was bullied:

“It was my first year of cheering and [the bully] has been at the gym for a while. We were at the US Finals in Virginia Beach. Our team was running our routine and [the bully] was yelling at me telling me what I would do wrong. She did it all season and even during our performances. I walked off the floor in tears from constantly being yelled at. I wanted to quit. I wanted to go home.”

Arrogance, Jealously, and Resentment

No one is “better” than anyone else because they have better skills. There are lots of other factors that impact an individual’s performance quality and their success as an athlete. This arrogance feeds bullying and it is nothing but detrimental to an individual’s peak performance and learning and their participation as an effective team member.

Bullying can be driven by jealousy and resentment too. This makes athletes turn on each other instead of being part of a team. Jealous athletes feel as though they are entitled to recognition and actually work against their team to capture the spotlight for themselves.

Unfortunately coaches can feed this animosity by showing favoritism which makes most of their athletes feel inferior and this breeds jealousy and resentment that can destroy teams and effective learning in the gym.

Bullying Infests All Sports

This example may be a cheerleading one, but bullying, resentment and jealousy are present in every sport. By focusing on positivity, common goals, student improvement, and transparency, coaches and owners of facilities can help to ensure that bullying has no place among their athletes.

Here are four rules for your students to help them stand up to bullying:

1. Treat everyone with respect.

2. Stand up for others.

3. Walk away and find an adult.

4. Talk to your parents about it.

These articles may also interest you:

Coach’s Guide to Bullying in Sports

8 Ways Parents Can Address Bullying in Sports

There is an organization that unifies all who are passionate about eradicating bullying from all sports: StompOutBullying.

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