|Can you bully an NFL QB?|
Gouveia told me he thinks we assign the "bully" label to situations where it doesn't apply. Or at the very least I was applying to a situation where it didn't apply.
Maybe I/we did/do.
Because the truth is, I've been conflicted about the name calling that often goes with rooting for sports teams for a while now. I'm completely guilty of this behavior myself, having called Eli Manning a host of disparaging names. I'm all for noting that certain QBs fail in the fourth quarter or throw ill-timed picks or denigrating Donovan McNabb for throwing "worm burners." Those are criticisms of their skills and abilities to play the position.
And the Gouveia-Dalton situation certainly doesn't involve the type of physical abuse frequently mentioned on websites about bullying. But does it fit into under the term "attacking someone verbally"? Is it OK for 30-year olds and 40-year olds to mock the looks of 20-year-old kids fresh out of college?
Gouveia clearly thinks it is. Maybe it is. Maybe the lack of a power differential makes all the difference. I'm just not sure. It might sound like I'm throwing stones at Gouveia; but I'm really not. As I've said, I've done this myself, insulting hated rival Eli Manning's looks and manhood in the heat of games and discussions. This is much more of an introspective piece about me trying to figure out where I stand than a criticism of where Gouveia stands on the issue.
Because even if its not bullying, I wonder: what are we teaching our kids when we make fun of someone almost half our age for the color of their hair? Would we be OK with a high school senior making fun the redheaded kid in the freshman class? What if the senior was editor of the paper and the freshman was the football team's QB and had just lost a playoff game?
Are we comfortable saying a redhead will never win the SB, even in jest? Aren't we stating that redheads are somehow inferior in some basic way. Where is the line? Are we comfortable saying a redhead could never win the presidency? What about a woman? What about a Hispanic?
When I think about it, I'm not really sure I'm comfortable with what my kids would take away from that behavior. I'm also not sure whether its a form of bullying or not. So I don't mock the appearance of sports players any longer and I shudder when others do.
But I think my confusion on this issue is just symptomatic of the issue of bullying itself. Much of what I read about bullying from parent bloggers, general bloggers and the media portray it as some sort of black and white issue where there are bullies and the bullied and a vast chasm in between. In reality, I think the evidence shows bullies are often bullied themselves.
I know that when I was a kid, I was both the bully and the bullied.
So a lot of kids do some bullying at some point, and are also bullied at some point. It is a trickle down situation where the jocks bully the general population, which bullies the nerd population. On and on it goes until you get down to that one kid who is really, really screwed because he has no friends to bully and is the lowest person on the totem pole.
Andy Dalton may or may not be a good QB, but I'm not sure his hair color can or should come into the equation.
Wikipedia on bullying
kidshealth.org on bullying
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