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The Press Box: Bullying is never OK

By Randy Rutherford - Staff Writer | Sep 22, 2021

I had a young boy tell me last week he wanted to play football at a local high school this season, but he was bullied by some other kids and their parents so he never went out. I didn’t know what to say to him, and wasn’t sure he was telling the truth. I did some leg work on this and found out the boy has a legitimate complaint. After checking at the fitness center I found out he had been a regular there since last May.

I was also informed he was a hard worker who would have been an asset to any team. We hear a lot today about numbers. Wondering why more kids don’t come out for sports, always asking what the difference is in today’s kids and those from years past. In this particular case it looks to me like some parents actually played a role in keeping a child from playing football. And with the numbers on some of these teams that is more than shameful. This is the second time in the last two weeks I’ve seen a hurt child. The first being a young boy watching other kids playing at a local celebration, but not being able to himself because he didn’t have the money for a wristband. I took care of that one, but it’s things like this that can change kids forever.

Every child has the right to play sports and to be respected. All youth should have the opportunity to develop as people through sports. Sports participation is the key to addressing many of life’s challenges, often lifting troubled and abused people to a better way of life, and anyone who stands in the way of that is in need of help themselves, whether it’s another child, parent, or coach.

I am ashamed to say I know what happened and who was responsible. I wrote about this boy in another article last year. I mentioned how I watched him kick a football 50 yards with ease, and throw the ball at least that far in the air. Let me say he is not playing ball and from all indications he has no plans to.

We should make every effort to accommodate children’s interests to participate, and to encourage them no matter what their background is. It may be their only way out of a bad situation

Children, and not only children, but all people, have the right to be free from all forms of abuse.They should always be treated as people first, and athletes second, but never as second class because they don’t meet up to someone else’s standards.

I once recommended a player to a high school coach who is no longer coaching today. His response to me was no one with that last name would ever play for him. That coach missed out on one of the best basketball players this area has ever seen. But, you see just like the boy I’ve been talking about, every child should be able to play free of discrimination, and be treated with dignity, regardless of any family characteristic.

With COVID taking its toll on the youth of today we sure don’t need abusers messing with their physical and mental health. We all know our local teams can use all the help they can get, so let’s do the right thing and treat everyone equal. You just might not be as great as you think you are, and remember, what goes around comes around.

Here at the local papers we write about athletes every week. We don’t pick and choose who we write about based on who they are or what their name is, we recognize them for what they do. It should be that way in all things. Good or Bad!