Friday, February 7th, 2014
“Friday Night Tykes,” a new reality television show set at a youth football league in Texas, is igniting a debate about the fine line between motivation and bullying when it comes to coaches. An essay on Time.com outlines the issue and cites recent research that studies the ways coaches’ attitudes and behaviors can influence kids:
[On "Friday Night Tykes,"] one weeping child is told by his coach: “I don’t care how much pain you’re in! You don’t quit.” Another coach chides a player, “Don’t give me that soft crap,” while smacking him on the head. Two coaches featured on the show, where all of the athletes are 8- or 9-years-old, were suspended last week.
Such conduct by an adult can have serious ramifications for a child. “It can impair social and emotional development and cause substantial harm to mental health,” Nancy Swigonski, a professor at Indiana University’s School of Medicine, wrote last month in a piece in the journal Pediatrics. “When the bullying occurs in an athletic setting, those harmful effects are augmented by the stress kids often feel as a result of athletic competition.”
Swigonski’s article opens with the scene of a parent walking into basketball practice at her daughter’s high school, only to find “the head coach screaming at the team that they lacked intelligence and were lazy because they had not executed a play properly.”
This kind of behavior is hardly uncommon. Swigonski cited one study of more than 800 American children in which 45% said their coaches called them names, insulted them or verbally abused them during play. In another study from the United Kingdom, 6,000 young adults were asked about their experiences in youth sports, and 75% said they suffered “emotional harm” at least once, and one-third of that group said their coach was to blame.
But what often gets lost in these stories is the flip side of the equation: A “true coach”—to use the term favored by Morgan Wootten, the first high school coach to be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame—can also make a lifelong difference for a young person, only in a deeply positive way.
This isn’t to say that coaches should be soft or easy. But there’s a clear line between expecting a lot from kids and being abusive. “It’s good to be tough,” Swigonski said. “It’s just not OK to be a bully.”
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oach’s whistle, via Shutterstock
Thursday, December 5th, 2013
The mother of a former high school football player in Lunenberg, Massachusetts is a suspect in an incident in which racist slurs were scrawled on her home. The episode prompted school officials to cancel the rest of the football season when it was believed that fellow players may have committed what was called a “hate crime.” Fox Sports has more on the new developments:
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According to the Boston Globe, Lunenburg (Mass.) police and the FBI questioned Andrea Brazier on Nov. 25 about the offensive messages spray painted on her home. 13-year-old Isaac Phillips, Brazier’s son, is half-black and was believed to be the target of the graffiti, which was discovered on Nov. 15 and included the phrase “Knights don’t need n——!”
Brazier previously told police that Phillips had been harassed by teammates on the Lunenburg High School football team, and the initial thought was that the writing was the handiwork of those players. But the players were later cleared, and police then began to pursue other suspects.
The court records obtained by the Boston Globe included an affidavit that detailed Brazier’s conversation with investigators on Nov. 25. During the interview, Brazier reportedly stated that neither her husband, Anthony J. Phillips, nor her son were responsible for the graffiti. However, Brazier also reportedly pushed for the investigation into the matter to end.
“Andrea stated ‘OK,’” the affidavit said, according to the Globe. “Andrea just kept answering ‘OK’ and that she wanted everything to end and that we did not understand.”
After the meeting with Brazier, police received a warrant to search Brazier’s home, which they executed Tuesday.
During the search, the Globe reports, police found a can of Krylon indoor/outdoor spray paint, as well as a can of Krylon Fusion spray paint, which is generally used on plastic — however, it is unknown what color those paints were or whether they could have been used in the crime.
During a previous visit to Brazier’s home on Nov. 18, police also observed two burnt aerosol cans in a fire pit outside the home. According to the Globe’s report, police were given three different accounts of where those cans came from at the time.
Wednesday, November 20th, 2013
Officials at the high school in Lunenburg, Massachusetts have cancelled the remainder of its football season in the wake of an incident in which racially charged graffiti was sprayed onto the home of the team’s only black player. More from NBC News:
Lunenburg, Mass., School Superintendent Loxi Jo Calmes announced Monday that the “remaining football games of the season have been forfeited” — including the traditional Thanksgiving Day game — because of “racial harassment investigations.”
Racial slurs, including the N-word, were found Friday spray-painted on the foundation of the home of freshman and junior varsity athlete Isaac Phillips, 13 — the only black player on the Lunenburg Blue Knights football team, according to NBC affiliate WHDH. Isaac’s father is black and his mother is white, according to the Associated Press.
Anthony J. Phillips, Isaac’s father, told the Worcester Telegram & Gazette he is angry at Lunenburg officials who allegedly concealed racist remarks made by numerous Lunenburg football players during games.
“This is a few bad kids and the coaches are letting them do anything they want to do,” the father told the newspaper.
At a news conference Monday, Calmes thanked locals for gathering at a vigil Sunday night and standing behind Phillips and his family, who she said were victims of an “act of hate.”
Image: Football, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, October 29th, 2013
The American Academy of Pediatrics is recommending that kids who suffer a concussion, a common sports-related injury, shouldn’t return to school right away, lest they exacerbate the temporary symptoms of concussion that relate to learning and retaining information. More from Time.com:
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Although children may appear to be physically normal after having a concussion, they may actually have trouble learning new information and retaining it. Going back to school may exacerbate these symptoms, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) in a new clinical report presented at the AAP National Conference & Exhibition in Orlando.
Research shows that it takes about three weeks for a child to fully recover from a concussion. If their symptoms are especially severe, they should stay home from school. Even though kids with concussions may appear asymptomatic, they often report difficulty focusing on schoolwork and taking tests, especially in math, science, and foreign-languages. Medical experts are worried that too much learning stimulation can overwhelm a brain that is still recovering, and make it even more difficult for a child to get back on track. If systems are mild, parents can consider sending their kids back to class, but should inform teachers about the concussion so adjustments can be made to the pace of the class if needed. The researchers call this necessary step, “cognitive rest.”
Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013
Youth football programs are continuing to thrive, despite repeated warnings about the danger of head injury and other issues related to repeated hits and even minor concussions. Parents are hearing the warnings that sports-related injuries happen every 25 seconds in the US, research shows, and programs are instituting concussion prevention and care rules. But kids are playing football at the same or even higher rates than in the past. Today.com has more:
While many football parents can’t help but worry when their kids play the sport – after all, you send your kid to battle in a helmet and full gladiator gear – there’s no major indication parental fear is resulting in fewer kids playing, according to current statistics.
Pop Warner, the largest and oldest youth football organization in the U.S., has seen the number of youth players – close to 250,000 – remain steady from 2011 to 2012, according to Josh Pruce, national director of media relations at Pop Warner headquarters in Langhorne, Penn.
And Pruce says in the five years prior to 2012, there was a consistent, steady growth of 1 percent to 2 percent of players each year.
Pruce says that he has seen an increase in questions and concerns about head injuries related to the sport. “It’s something we hear from parents and coaches. But we tell them safety is Pop Warner’s number one priority.”
Image: Young football player, via Shutterstock
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