by Jeremy Baartman | November 22, 2013 8:52 am
If Richie Incognito and Jonathon Martin of the Miami Dolphins can have bullying issues in a locker room that can risk multi-million dollar contracts, imagine what could happen in high school locker rooms that might go unnoticed. How do RB coaches and athletes recognize the difference between friendly banter and legitimate bullying?
Boys’ Swimming Coach Todd Fridrych knows that bullying is a sensitive topic that needs to be approached with caution.
“Some kids will have a harder skin than others and take more,” Fridrych said. “Some will break down the first time. You just don’t know what happens until each individual scenario takes place.”
Senior track star athlete Lewis Rogers agreed.
“It’s hard to draw the line based on individual tolerance,” Rogers said.
Fridrych also said that, in a heavily controlled environment, activities that look like hazing could be used for team bonding.
“If you have a whole group that acts in one way that doesn’t demean an individual, that is different,” Fridrych said. “We have a tradition on swimming that freshmen put the lane lines in before practice. It’s something we do; it’s not demeaning to them at all.”
Still, Fridrych acknowledged there are obvious boundaries.
“If someone were to push a freshman in the water and scream and them to put [the lane lines] in, that would be bullying and hazing,” he said.
How do coaches handle bullying or hazing if it happens? “I would put my captains in full investigation,” said Fridrych. “My captains are my police in the locker room. They see things that I don’t and can and will determine if a higher authority needs to be involved.”
Sociology teacher John Fields is wary of the whole scenario. “There is a culture with hazing and hazing always gets out of hand,” he said.
Even gender can make a difference. Varsity tennis player Carlie Wilson said, “Girls can be as mean as guys, if not more, but for a much different reason.”
Determining what is and is not bullying or hazing can be complicated. What one student considers being bullied, another student may not. And the administrator who handles the case might think something different entirely.
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