The Texas father of a high school football player would have been right at home in Salem, in the British New World colony of Massachusetts, around 1692. Then, thanks to hysteria about witchcraft, a vengeful citizen could permanently set the populace against a neighbor who had offended him, say, by winning a lawsuit, stealing a recipe or looking lustfully at his or her significant other, by accusing that neighbor of being a witch. This would inevitably spark an investigation, suspicion, infamy, maybe even a trial…and if the accusation stuck, a sadistic execution, perhaps by piling rocks on the neighbor’s witchy chest until everyone heard the sounds of squishing and cracking.
The cry of “Witch!” doesn’t work so well any more, but accusing someone of being a bully works almost as well. It can cause schools to impose punishment for words and activities that have nothing to do with school, and give law enforcement officials the power to pile rocks on the First Amendment. Now a vengeful father who watched his son’s hapless football team get the just desserts of all hapless teams—losing badly—has successfully punished the victors for being stronger, faster, and better coached, by accusing the superior team—it beat his son’s squad by a score of 91-0—of “bullying.” This mandates an investigation, so the winning team’s coach is now under a cloud, and in peril of seeing his career and reputation squished and cracked.
To say the accusation is irresponsible, dishonest and unfair does not adequately put the father in question in his place: he is a royal jackass. But as in 17th century Salem, culturally-approved hysteria provides fertile ground for such unethical conduct. The website of Aledo High School in suburban Fort Worth—that’s the school with the team that can actually play football, so its players’ parents don’t have to attack opposing teams’ coaches—includes a state-mandated bullying incident complaint form, and if you post it, they will come. (Does anyone doubt that if a witchcraft incident complaint form was on the website, some parent would find justification to use that too, perhaps when their oh-so talented daughter failed to get the part of Eliza in the school’s production of “Mah Fayer Laydie”?)
The father wrote that “everyone in the football stadium” witnessed the Aledo squad’s “unsportsmanlike conduct.” “We all witnessed bullying firsthand, it is not a pretty sight,” the complaint reads. “I did not know what to say on the ride home to explain the behavior of the Aledo coaches for not easing up when the game was in hand.” Now, under state law, Aledo’s principal has investigate the complaint and prepare a report.
The coach of the Western Hills team—that’s the one that lost—has told the press that he saw nothing inappropriate about how the Aledo coach, Tim Buchanan, handled an awkward situation that was not his fault in any way. Buchanan’s traditionally powerhouse team was moved into a new division where the football is vastly inferior to the standard his teams had already established; Aledo has been scoring about 50 points a game. Buchanan quickly saw that the game against Western Hills was going to be an ugly rout, and responsibly benched his starters for the scrubs after only 21 plays. He then stuck to conservative running plays, and allowed the clock to run uninterrupted after halftime to so as not to prolong the agony. There is no slaughter rule, and as Buchanan properly pointed out in an interview, his team had practiced all week: they had a right to play, and his first duty was to his players. He also noted that such a game wasn’t much fun for Aledo, either.
I suppose he could have asked his team to draft their grade school sisters and brothers from the stands to take their places, or maybe their grandparents, walkers and all, but presumably this would have made the Western Hills player feel humiliated too. So would making the Aledo team play on their knees, with their shoelaces tied together, with their hands tied behind their backs, or tethered to cannon balls or old Buicks. From accounts of the game, they still would have won handily.
The complaint is vindictive and an abuse of process. It comes from a culture that is increasingly trying to legislate against failure, though it is only by losing that we learn how to win, and by failing that we find the way to success. The complaint is also the product of too much deference accorded to aggrieved hysterics who must find blame and seek scapegoats for unfortunate incidents that have very different causes, in this case, a poorly coached team, a dearth of gridiron talent, and a terrible scheduling decision. It also is the natural result of elevating a legitimate concern over real school bullying, for unlike witches, bullies do exist, to a societal phobia.
That squishing we hear is our national character, and the cracking we hear are our rights.
Pointer: The Blaze
Sources: Aledo High School, Fox, Sporting News, DFW Varsity,
28 thoughts on ““BULLY!” Is The New “WITCH!””
Having your child’s team beaten badly is not bullying. The assertion made by this father is ridiculous.
I liken this guy (and people like him) to the boy who cried wolf. Cry bullying too much at the wrong time and people won’t respond to actual bullying when it happens.
The same has been true of racism, socialism, and many other legitimate problems. Good point, Dan.
Very true. I cringe when people claim that certain criticism of Obama is racist when it clearly isn’t. That makes it more difficult for people to expose real racist criticism of the President.
I wonder if this principle would apply to accusations of rape.
Surely no one would risk destroying three thousand years of moral and legal traditions by “dumbing down” the definition of rape.
Safe to assume my emails are sent to the spam folder
In a somewhat related topic: that is punishing the successful and incentivizing mediocrity, another Fort Worth suburb, Keller, has a youth association that has recently decided to stop awarding participation trophies.
Reversing a “self esteem” is king trend in America beginning full force in the 90’s, this Youth Association will now begin rewarding the winners to remind all others that life and nature doesn’t reward those who aren’t as good as others.
That’s good news. I need good news.
Well, I’m still trying to find the transcript of the Aledo coach’s response to the bullying accusations (arguably bullying themselves). Not his immediate conversations which you addressed, but a press conference he was in just yesterday afternoon. His answers to questions weren’t all that hopeful and indicated that he was answering as though there were grounds to the accusations. I wish I could find the transcript.
Sad, but not at all surprising, no? He’s the one on the defensive. He is the victim of the abuse of power, which can more legitimately be called bullying than anything he did.
Aledo ISD has determined there is NO grounds to continue an investigation. Obviously the right answer, and obviously they had to investigate in this litigative day in age…but I’d say the determination is about 24 hours late.
Ha… when trying to create an noun for “likely to engage in lawsuits” I completely forgot “litigious” and opted to invent “litigative”.
Glad to hear that this has been put to rest by the district today. The coach of the losing team had a great opportunity to play into this bullying mantra but he refused to go that route. He praised the coach and the players of the winning team. His remarks made him seem to be a class act.
In Texas high school football (still a big deal here) there’s long been an unwritten rule that when it becomes obvious to a coach that his team far outmatches the other, he’ll send in his 2nd and 3rd strings. By this means, he shows respect for the other team by not running up the score on them (after all, what goes around comes around!) and gives his younger players some quality time on the field. Occasionally, though, the mismatch is so great that nothing can keep the score from becoming overtly lopsided.
This was the evident case in the Aledo vs. Western Hills game. Note that the WH coach himself acknowledged Aledo’s attempt to hold the score down. (The two schools are VERY old rivals.) Also note that only one idiot raised this “bullying” stink. There’s always one, no matter where you go. The good news is that this moron’s lawsuit went nowhere in a hurry. This is still Texas, thank God!
Good luck to Western Hills HS, too. Sometimes it takes a good drubbing to get your head clear and your heart beating strong. As for Aledo, they look like a unstoppable juggernaut to the Texas Class AAAA title this year.
I played on a high school football team that won back to back games 77-7 and 70-0. In a rural area there’s only so much space to group similar skill levels together, and there was a huge gap between the top and bottom of our conference. After one of the wins the local small-town rag ripped into our coach for running up the score.
In a gread display of sportsmanship the opposing coach was the one to leap to our defense, pointing out that no starters played past the first quarter, and that even many of the true backups were out by halftime. When the winning team is fielding the players by means of “Who wants to be fullback this series? OK offensive tackle, get in there. Who wants to be quarterback? A 4th string defensive back? Sure!” and STILL SCORING, the only other option would be to take a knee every play and punt it away, and that’s a true insult. I’m so glad that I made it out of High School before the trend to cry “Bully” worked up a full head of steam.
Unless this dad saw REAL unsportsmanship- slam tackles, chop blocks, taunting, or whatever, he needs to remember that baseball isn’t the only place there’s no crying.
Well, it is about time this made it to athletics. These attitudes have already ruined academics. No competition is allowed in academics anymore, and it was legislated away by the Federal government. We wouldn’t want little Johnny feeling bad that he isn’t as good at math as Suzy, that would be a crime. There was a time when students were able to compete with each other to see who could get the best score on a test or in a class. Now, it is against the law. Try to run athletics under the same constraints. Then, maybe people will rethink the destruction of academics.
As much as I agree with your sentiment, I’m fairly sure it’s not against the law to have competition for grades. Sure, lots of schools dilute the “Valedictorian” title by passing it to a large group, but my cousin just graduated as sole valedictorian of her High School. The Dean’s list is alive and well at the college I’m affiliated with, posted proudly in the student union. Just because some places cave to whining doesn’t mean it’s illegal not to.
Michael…are you talking about IDEA in the public schools? Just trying to understand where you are coming from.
Ok, try posting test grades in class in ascending order of grades. Grades are now protected educational records. I’m surprised revealing the Valedictorian is allowed much less honoring Magna and Summa graduates in colleges (it almost violates the law the way it is currently interpreted, but it is ignored). You can’t say “congratulations to Sally who received a perfect score on the test”. It’s like playing a football game without an audience and without allowing anyone on either team to know what the score is or who scored. It is considered bullying and an invasion of privacy to know what someone’s grades are now and it makes as much sense as the bullying complaint above.
I’ll back up Luke’s statement; my old high school still has a tradition recognizing the 10 highest cumulative GPAs at each graduation, as well as at a number of assemblies.
I was at San Diego State University in the 60’s and the Aztecs had a powerhouse team then. Poor University of Mexico had to play them and they were predictably creamed. Still, I will not forget those brave Mexican young men who never gave up. They scored one touchdown as I recall. They probably would have laughed at the idea that the Aztecs were “bullying them”.
There were no British colonies until 1707, for the simple reason that Britain consisted of separate kingdoms until then – and that meant that there were distinct English and Scottish colonies. It was the failure of a Scottish colony at Darien that threw financial pressure for unification onto Scotland.
What action should the winning coach have taken? Apparently, the only way to ameliorate the “bullying”: would have been to pull his team off the field.
Also: the losing coach saw that his team was getting crushed. Why didn’t he pull his team off the field. If this was bullying and he was in a position to end it, isn’t he fault his?
I think the latter is a terrible move, and undermines one of the core lessons of sports. If you are getting beat, just quit? Awful lesson. You play as hard as you can, as best you can, and take pride in that.
The losing coach was nothing but complimentary and sportsmanlike towards the winning team.
The person in the wrong here was the hyper-sensitive parent with delusions of entitlement.
Talking about witch-hunts.. how about :spectral evidence” proving a schoolgirl committed violation and rape?
In my own humble opinion, I believe bullying is okay. Why would I say that? Because in my world, I don’t ascribe the same definition to bullying that the new “bully zealots” have defined. If you bully someone to the point of committing suicide, you haven’t just bullied them, you’ve harassed them.
Our society already had a word for extreme bully behavior and that was “harassment”. If we can’t properly label words and ideas, to give them consistent and logical meaning, then we can’t solve the problem.
Society cannot properly vilify “Bully” because it’s too easy to be a bully and conduct yourself as a bully. The first reply to my comment here will probably disagree with me and I will have felt bullied. That shouldn’t dissuade anyone from making the comment and furthering the discussion.
Bullying happens all of the time because it’s a an innocuous distinction and subjective to how certain people feel about it. When bullying escapes limited interactions and escalates with viciousness, it should be considered and termed harassment. “Harassment” already has an established definition that nearly meets every single criteria that “bully zealots” would ascribe to “bullying” in order to vilify the subject and convince the public that “something has to be done”. It’s for the kids after all.
So, here’s what I ask for my detractors: rather than talk semantics and philosophy of my outlook on this subject, find me a case of bullying that warrants unique intervention that a rational person wouldn’t consider to be harassment. Let’s talk about those examples.
As for the football example above? The losing team may have been bullied by the winning team, but that’s okay because bullying is okay.*
*In certain circumstances, even regular innocuous bullying is not okay.
A gang sets upon a kid leaving them with a fractured skull.
That’s not bullying. That’s Assault.