Just Once, Just Once, Damnit …

I’d like to read a story about why you never hear of gay high school students bullying a jock. It’s always the other way around. (Toronto Star)

Author: Stephen LaRose

2006 winner of the Canadian Association of University Teachers's Award of Excellence in Journalism for a bunch of prairie dog stuff. Invited into the best homes in Regina. Once.

21 thoughts on “Just Once, Just Once, Damnit …”

  1. Amen, bro. I sometimes think sports teams should be completely banned from high schools because they’re basically a generator of this sort of negativity, even when the kids aren’t gay or some other easily identifiable group. A son of friends of mine in Winnipeg, for example, played for the high school football team until getting a third serious concussion in less than 18 months. On doctor’s orders he dropped off the team. Only to be tormented by his former team mates for being (and I quote) a “pussy”, “quitter” and “fag.” Charming. Someone should make those little fuckers join the chess club or something.

  2. Bro, banning is way extreme, more rules and regs but the majority of sports teams don’t display this behaviour.

  3. Agreeing with Anon y mous, I’d like to point out that while some jocks may bully, so do some other students who are not involved in athletics. Stereotyping doesn’t help the situation; it both over- and under-shoots the mark.

  4. When I was in high school, we had a lot of dicks around who were involved in community hockey teams or the Pats or some other thing not connected to the school…. so not having a high school football team for example won’t get rid of this crap.
    Also there are plenty of idiots who like to beat other kids up and harrass them, who are not jocks.
    I like that I am seeing a lot of anti-bullying efforts out there these days, but I can’t help wondering how effective they really are, because most crap occurs when no one is looking.

  5. I’m not sure I’d agree with you anon-y-mous — my own admittedly limited exposure suggests that most of them behave that way. ‘Course what would you expect to happen when you assemble a pack of teenagers, right? I was being a bit tongue in cheek when I suggested an outright ban, but its interesting to see how many defenders sports teams always have. If any other activity amassed their record of bullying, intimidation and hazing, I suspect there’d be widespread calls for banning — but never sports. That’s character building, right? What they never acknowledge is that it frequently builds characters like Ben Rothlesberger (sp?) and Tie Domi.

  6. Bro, sports can build character, improve communities, promote healthy lifestyles etc. Some stricter rules need to be enforced against a-holes like this, but overall I stand by the comment that sports and their various organizations benefit society. And I’ve played on plenty of teams for over 20 years and the number of bullies is minimal, next to none.

    And for all the pro athletes that have bad reps, there are tons out there that do a lot of good.

  7. With respect, Anon, are you entirely sure you’d have known it if you’d have seen it?
    These kids on the football team literally didn’t think they were doing a thing wrong. They were actually apparently really offended when the were (after a few months) eventually called on it.
    Teams promote group think. Which can be great for societal cohesion. Not so great for self-awareness though.
    I certainly don’t disagree that there are fine people who are athletes. But sports seems prepared to turn a blind eye to horrible character flaws for good players.
    See, Big Ben, three rape allegations and counting. Or Micheal Vick and his fat contract.
    If they actually lived up to their wholesome and holier-than-thou rhetoric, neither of these douchebags would get so much as a sniff at a pro contract.

  8. Vick served his time, and Ben was never actually found guilty of anything. The NFL is actually pretty proactive in disciplining its players for running afoul of the law (suspensions even for being accused of something, ex. Big Ben), probably a lot more than most large corporations.

    I’d also wager that the ratio of players getting in trouble (there are over 2000 players in the NFL) is lower than the US average for the general population. You just hear about what when they do something, where no one finds out about if Joe the janitor assaulted someone at the bar.

    To sum up there are negative aspects of any group, but I’d hardly say sports are worse than any other.

  9. I’ll again have to disagree with you on the relative level of policing vs. the corporate world.

    In the corporate world your career can be over — and do I mean OVER — just for failing a piss test.

    I’m gonna also have to engage in a bit of speculation that Big Ben might have gotten a bit of a sweetheart deal on things. Cops love athletes. Most of them are frustrated ones.

    I totally agree there are good and bad in all groups. I object to the mindless glorification of sport uber alles, without a critical look at its track record.

    Sports does not, in and of itself, teach character. The people involved in sports can do that, however. Both good and bad.

    I wouldn’t be having this extended debate with you, however, were it not for the fact that butter wouldn’t melt in the mouths of sports apologists when they start talking about “character building” and all that other shite.

    It’s a relatively mindless activity generally surrounding throwing, catching or chasing a ball or puck. Nothing wrong with that. But it’s hardly the cure for friggin’ cancer.

  10. In terms of favourism, I’m sure some athletes get off easier than others, while some don’t – depends on individual, where they are, and what cops/judges they’re dealing with. Many sport careers have been ruined by criminal activities, they may get second chances, but often for far less pay and fame (ex. CFL, european leagues).

    Sports won’t cure cancer, but it does offer tons of entertainment for the entire globe. And it is the people in sports that make them great, no argument, b/c most people in them are involved for positive reasons, not to bully gays etc.

  11. I find it interesting how a post about a gay kid who killed himself has become all about defending jocks from supposed slander.

    I have a problem with that.

  12. Not all gay kids or kids who are bullied committ suicide. Blame the jocks,so easy,so lazy and so wrong.

  13. @Brian

    There’s actually some very clearcut evidence that sports played a direct role in his death.

    From the Toronto Star:

    “In Grade 7 he was treated very cruelly simply because he liked figure skating over hockey,” the councillor said.

    A couple more points:

    1) It’s hardly “blaming the jocks” to clearly identify that sports can essentially promote an us-and-them tribalism. They are called “team sports” after all.

    2) A trend I’ve noticed in these comments is that the people who think jocks aren’t bullies would seem to be jocks themselves. Which likely means they’ve never tasted the whip. If you’re in the club, it’s harder to realize the club is really a nasty little clique.

    The day someone goes around ripping down posters for the football team, not the Rainbow Society is the day I will know things have changed.

  14. “I find it interesting how a post about a gay kid who killed himself has become all about defending jocks from supposed slander.

    I have a problem with that.”

    An unfair stereotype about athletes in response to this article was voiced, and there was a reaction against this. That’s how comment sections work.

    And no one should hope that instead of one group being picked on and prejudiced against, another one is instead. Nice logic.

  15. Putting aside the cliches about jocks, we need pro athletes to come out and show how common gay is. I’d like to see a bunch of high-profile NHL players come out. It’d be good for the world.

  16. @Stephen:
    YES. What we need is some guys in NHL, NFL, MLB, NBA, CFL…. to all come out at once. Boy would that lead to an interesting aftermath.

  17. And oh yeah, what about all the kids like me who were bullied just because we weren’t “cool”? Reasons for being a target don’t start and end at “gay”; it can be as simple as “I think I could beat you up, so I will!”

  18. I agree with everything that Gordeaux (particularly the groupthink comment), Stephen, and Paul said.

    Last weekend I played my first indoor co-ed soccer game of the season. A girl from the other team called a girl from my team a lesbian. As in, the girl from my team touched the other girl’s arm with her hand, and the reply was, “What, are you a lesbian?”

    Unfortunately as I didn’t hear it when it happened, I couldn’t do anything about it. By the time I heard, it was too late for me to go to the ref. I will, however, be emailing the Regina Soccer Association.

    Sports players are always forgiven for their “passion”. Oh it was just the heat of the game, they say.

    TOTAL BS.

    Also, Bnonymous, all bullying is wrong. Not just jocks bullying gay kids, but any bullying is wrong.

  19. We’re not at the point where active players who are gay will come out. Yet. However, several leagues have had players come out in support of gays and spoken out against gay-bashing. Guys like Sean Avery (NHL) and Shaq (NBA) come to mind. The leagues have also dealt out penalties for guys using gay slurs (Kobe Bryant was fined $100,000). An NBA top executive recently came out, to universal (public at least) support.

    Leagues and sports can do more, but they are at least starting to make an effort.

  20. My brother comitted suicide last year. Looking for one reason for any suicide is uneducated. Indeed the bullying that Hubley endured may have been a factor but there are other factors like his medication and other outside influences. This does not let the bullies off the hook but to simply ban all sports teams from high school is a knee jerk reaction at best. Hopefully, through some programs depression and suicide can be dealt with at all levels of society. It is a tragedy a person no matter what age finds himself or herself so much in despair that they choose the final option.

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