Bullying is not a rite of passage but an unfortunate situation that occurs in the lives of youth, children and even adults. It is important to put an end to bullying and teach others to rise above the negative behavior. As a soccer player and student athlete, you can use your platform as a leader to be an anti-bullying advocate.
Athletes are known for being leaders and often hold an esteemed position in the social arena. Throughout middle school and high school, athletes are the people their peers often look up to. According to Stop Bullying, when it comes to bullying there are three positions a person can play: the person bullying, the person being bullied or the person witnessing the bullying. Sometimes, an athlete can play the role of the bully. They may use their status to sway their peers to accept or reject others.
Through the game of soccer, you have learned skills that not only apply when dribbling a ball but in the classroom, online and after school as well. The leadership, teamwork and sportsmanship skills taught during soccer can be used off the field to empower yourself and others. As an athlete, you can use these skills to deter bullying and educate others that sportsmanship is not just for sports. An athlete’s position among peers can and should be used for good.
To be a leader is not about simply taking the lead or being in command. It is also about portraying a model of behavior you want others to emulate. Use your leadership skills to promote positive talk amongst and about your peers. Remind others to do the same. When you hear someone picking on or making fun of a classmate, say something. Stick up for your peer. Put an end to the conversation.
Athletes have been known to redirect unruly fans. The same can be done with behaviors and attitudes that are unfavorable to your peers at school. Anti-bullying action can be as simple as reminding others that good sportsmanship is not just for athletes but also needs to be portrayed off the field.
Teams support each member and come together to work toward a common goal, becoming better individually and as team. Remind your teammates to work together in the hallways of your school as well as on the field. There is power in numbers, and working together can help discourage bullying amongst your peers.
Invite the girl who seems to be an outcast to sit with you and your teammates at lunch. When you and your teammates witness bullying, speak up together. Work with your teammates and your school to lead anti-bullying initiatives. Plan a bullying prevention event at your school or in your community, such as a Bullying Prevention 5k, a Stop Bullying Carnival, a bullying prevention club or round table discussions. These are just a few ideas on how you can work as a team to stomp out bullying. Check out these stories from Stop Bullying on how other teens and kids have gotten involved in the anti-bullying movement.
After each soccer game, you shake the hands of the members of the opposing team. Often times, you see rival players help each other up and give pats on backs. Take this same attitude of good sportsmanship with you into social situations. Help the kid at your school being bullied. Defend them if you are able to, and if not, go ask an adult for help. Remind yourself and your teammates that sportsmanship is simply about kindness, good manners and a sense of humanity. It is not just for sports.
To discourage bullying, it takes more than just one example or one kind word. Just as it takes constant practice to hone a skill on the playing field, it takes time and effort to stomp out bullying in our schools, communities and online. As an athlete and a leader on and off the field, you can take the skills you have developed to create an atmosphere where everyone can flourish and find support.
In addition to Stop Bullying, there are a number of anti-bullying education campaigns that have made a significant difference in schools and communities across the country. The key is to educate, model and encourage others to use their leadership, teamwork and sportsmanship skills to make a positive impact. Socceristas, you can make such a difference in the lives of your peers by helping to put an end to bullying.
For more information on the fight against bullying visit Stop Bullying's website.