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A Parents Guide to Bullying in Sports

Many parents world wide see first hand the stressful impact bullying in sports has on their children lives - affecting them now and in the future. Parents need to feel comfortable taking a stand, protecting their children, and not be afraid to do so. However it’s not always as easy as it sounds. The following are some handy tips that parents can use as a guide for dealing with their concerns for their children.

Author: Mandy Jane Clarke
Date: Jan 3, 2011 - 12:20:14 AM

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Bullying in sports has always been a problem, but it is getting more attention today in the light of deadly hazing rituals popping up at the middle, high school and even college level. Bullying in the athletic environment can take a variety of forms, including:

a. Teasing team members who do not perform as well as others.

b. Intimidating the most promising team members in order to eliminate competition for the best positions and the limelight.

c. Hazing new team members so they prove themselves to the team.

d. Ganging up on individual team members because one person doesn't like them.

In many cases, bullying in sports has nothing to do with the victim's personality or how well others on the team like them as a person. Many parents have reported their children being teased and brutally bullied by kids they considered friends off the field. This happens because kids want to be the best on the field and it is often easier to intimidate and mentally diminish their stiffest competition than it is to beat them on skill alone.

As a parent, you get that teamwork is a part of sports and you understand that by eliminating the best players and those with the most potential for improvement you weaken the team as a whole. Kids don't necessarily think about this. They are more interested in being the star of the team or getting a coveted spot on the field than they are about creating the strongest team possible.

In many cases, bullying in sports is not even a result of conscious thinking. Kids have a drive to be the best or they find someone else on the team irritating because they get more attention from the coach and they act out of those emotions.

If your child is dealing with bullying in sports, there are four things you should do to strengthen them, so they don't end up dropping out of sports, and to bring an end to the situation:

1. Educate Yourself

Start reading everything you can find about bullying in sports. Learn about the different forms it can take and how it can affect the victims of the bullying. The more you understand the motivations of the bullies the better equipped you will be to help your child through the situation.

2. Reach out to the Coach

Make some contact with the coach and explain what is going on. Do not try to be overly nice when communicating on this subject because you don't want to sound apologetic or weak. Make it clear what is happening and ask the coach to make sure the bullying stops. Strength is required here, but that is not the same thing as a mean or harsh tone. You simply want them to recognize the seriousness of the issue at hand.

3. Educate the Coach

If you feel the coach is blowing you off or is not taking the right actions to end the bullying, print out some of the information you used to educate yourself and hand it to the coach with a reminder that you expect them to control this behavior.

4. Empower Your Child

Finally, empower your child to look the bullies right in the eye and demand that they stop. This takes courage to do and some bullies will need a lot of stern, direct talk to stop their behaviors, but it is the best action your child can take when handling bullies on the field. Your child should stand up for themselves but they should not be apologetic for their skills in the sport.

By Mandy-Jane Clarke. For more tips on bullying in sports visit

By Mandy-Jane Clarke. For more tips on bullying in sports visit

View all articles by Mandy Jane Clarke

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