I'm pretty pissed. Keep me from being stupid.
December 1, 2011 8:48 AM   Subscribe

YANML, nor do I want to go that route if possible. Dealing with bullies and their parents, with added wrinkles.

My son plays on a sports team (11 years old). Over the past season, the coach's son has been taunting/verbally bullying him and a couple others on the team. I'm one that thinks kids need to learn to deal with this on their own, and he's done well in being able to respond with oneliners that I helped him with. So the physical pushes and shoves increased instead. But, still, he needs to learn to handle it.

Come the last practice. Coach's son checks him into a metal pole (there is no checking allowed in this sport). Son gets head injury. Coach doesn't get him ice, or contact me. Son texts me. I show up just as coach is about to put him back on the field to play. I'm taking care of him, so no need to comment on dangers of concusions/head injuries and treatment.

I contact coach next day, who doesn't ask about his well being, and also seems oblivious/taken aback that I'm accusing his son of bullying.

This is a travel sport game, coaches have to take a course to get licensed, which is managed by the US organization. Have contacted the head of the age group's program in town locally.

So, multiple things. How best to deal with a parent that doesn't think their son is a bully, just an 'aggressive' player, especially when they are the coach?

If this has to go further, politics of being 'that parent' among the other parents who like the coach and are friends in real life.

In going further, legal liabilities apply to whom? The travel organization? The coach personally? Potential actions the State/US licensing authority may take? What should I do to document in case it needs to go further?

Finally, I'd hate to pull him from the program, because he loves the sport more than having to deal with a bully. And he has lots of friends on the team, all from town. Any other program will be out of town.
posted by rich to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (16 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
In going further, legal liabilities apply to whom? The travel organization? The coach personally? Potential actions the State/US licensing authority may take? What should I do to document in case it needs to go further?

Legal liability for what, precisely? Your sons medical bills? You need to be specific here.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:50 AM on December 1, 2011


Son gets head injury. Coach doesn't get him ice, or contact me. .... I contact coach next day, who doesn't ask about his well being, and also seems oblivious/taken aback that I'm accusing his son of bullying.

It seems to me that your primary issue is with the coach not addressing a head injury!

If this has to go further, politics of being 'that parent' among the other parents who like the coach and are friends in real life.

Irrelevant. You need to be "that parent" to your kid regardless of the "politics" among the other adults.
posted by headnsouth at 8:52 AM on December 1, 2011


How about a sit down with you, your son and the coach privately first? Does the coach seem just as much of a bully as his son or does the coach seem like an actual adult?
posted by spicynuts at 9:06 AM on December 1, 2011


Probably the travel team organization for legal liability; they probably carry the insurance -- but really, my response as someone who oversees school athletics was "HOLY FUCK." Because oh my God, do you know what we pay in insurance for students involved in sports? A coach who didn't immediately address a head injury -- that would be a firing offense. Because a) that's super-dangerous for the kids and b) our insurance rates cannot handle that kind of reckless behavior by the supervising adult.

If anything you are underreacting. The organization needs to be informed, in no uncertain terms, of what's been going on here. That the coach's son plays too rough and that the couch is oblivious to this or is actively ignoring it, to the point that when his son illegally checked another player and gave him a head injury, the coach did not discipline his son and did not properly care for a player with a head injury.

I don't know what state you're in or what sport you're playing, but head injuries in youth sports are getting to be serious business; some states have passed laws or regulations (for schools and rec leagues) dictating what coaches have to do in case of a child receiving a head injury during a game. (And my organization has released coaches -- popular, good coaches -- who failed to follow rules on student player safety -- in our case, summer practice hydration. I wouldn't even think twice about it. Those rules are there for a reason.)

Honestly, as a parent, I'd be reluctant to let my child go back and play for a coach who isn't handling head injuries appropriately. That's serious stuff. You're in the situation, you know the sport, you know how bad the injury was, but my gut response would be that if the coach wasn't removed, I would have to remove my child -- and I'd make sure that other parents in the organization knew that the coach was not handling head injuries appropriately and the overseeing organization had refused to act. I would not let my child play in a league where I knew that was happening. I don't care how nice a guy the coach is -- my child's brain comes first.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:13 AM on December 1, 2011 [24 favorites]


Document this. Get a friend to show up to a game and film it. If you're the one filming - or if you're even there - the coach's son might be on his best behavior. You need evidence of what he usually does.

Take the head injury story to the coach's boss. Bring the film with you. If this sort of thing is typical of what he allows in the game, and if you can get people to corroborate your head injury story, then you've got a good chance of effecting actual change. But without evidence, it's your word against his.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 9:16 AM on December 1, 2011


It sounds like your kid isn't the only one with problems with the son's behaviour. If you don't want to be 'that parent' could you encourage other parents to speak up too?
posted by *becca* at 9:43 AM on December 1, 2011


Just want to second Eyebrows. Definitely deal with the fact that an untreated head injury occurred first. By letting his son get away with this sort of thing and downplaying the issue, he is potentially causing serious harm (or death!!!) to other children.
posted by AmandaA at 9:49 AM on December 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


"... [Coach] also seems oblivious/taken aback that I'm accusing his son of bullying."

Bullies usually learn their behavior from someone else. "The apple doesn't fall far from the tree" is a saying for a reason.

That being said, his inaction regarding your child's head injury needs to be brought to the attention of his bosses. Completely unacceptable.
posted by brand-gnu at 10:05 AM on December 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thanks, all.. keep it coming, and I'll reply more later. One added item - travel program, so all volunteer. No 'bosses', but an overall volunteer organization with a committee, etc.
posted by rich at 10:16 AM on December 1, 2011


I may be mis-remembering this but NPR had an article on the other day about a book/study of bullying (I don't think it's the Dear Bully references all my googling is bringing up). One of their conclusions or things they mentioned was that the precedent of turn the other cheek, or 'witty one liner' retorts, might not always be the best thing for the child's mental health/development in the long term. I'll stop there since I'm paraphrasing from a citation I can't find nor remember completely but it might be worth looking into/listening to.
posted by RolandOfEld at 10:43 AM on December 1, 2011


Your son has to come first. Refuse to let him continue to play in unsafe conditions, specifically, with this coach and/or his son, and pursue every disciplinary avenue you have open. Document what you can, and if you can talk to other parents and let them know what you're doing, they may back you up. Perhaps their kids have untreated head injuries too.

But even if they don't, you need to protect your kid and make a public complaint.

Honestly I think it's a bad idea in general to have someone coach their own kid's team, though I know that's how the leagues often work. But it makes it easier for this stuff to happen.
posted by emjaybee at 10:49 AM on December 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Thanks all.. I'm planning on talking it out with the coach, assitant coach, and the head of the program. Based on that I'll be deciding where he plays next season, and if I need to take any other actions.

I could have gone off the other end of the spectrum which wouldn't have helped anyone, so writing it out and reading the responses all helped keep me from stupid.
posted by rich at 12:22 PM on December 1, 2011


If you call a kid a bully, the parent will react to the label. If you describe the child's behavior, the parent can figure it out. Or not, but they'll be getting the information. The league/program needs to deal with this coach.
posted by theora55 at 2:12 PM on December 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I hope you find a way to explain it to your son so he understands that a) Coach is damaged goods, b) Coach's Son is also behaving wrong, and c) your son is not to blame. It would not surprise me that a kid would internalize this, so make it clear that your son's withdrawl from the team is due as much to safety as it is to Coach's Son's reprehenible behavior.

Yes, the league is all-volunteer, but it's still an organinastion with bylaws and liabilities -- and anyone who's willing to step up and work for the cause will also probably join you to keep it healthy by looking into this.
posted by wenestvedt at 5:57 AM on December 2, 2011


Given the number of overzealous, incompetent and uncaring youth sports coaches in kids sports today it is essential that the parents do whatever is necessary to ensure the safety of their child. Worry less about liability issues or what repercussions your actions to safeguard your child might be, take steps immediately to remove the child from the dangerous situation he is in and find an alternative program for him. Go public with the issue in whatever forum is available. Start with the directors of the program and don't stop until action is taken to remove the coach. If necessary take your concerns to your community parks and recreation department. They control field space and do not want to face law suits for tolerating unsafe conditions on their fields. If still no satisfaction, take the matter to the town supervisor and local newspaper. The coach must be removed or more kids will be put in harms way.
posted by coachjerry at 5:56 PM on December 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


@rich, I thought of this post tonight because we're actually at this moment revising our concussion policy to be more strict. Srs bizness.

I hope talking with everyone went well.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:15 PM on December 11, 2011


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