Jocks Should Take Anti-Bullying Stand
Sometimes an issue comes along that is so serious it begs for someone to take a stand.
The bullying crisis that has led to a rash of teen suicides is just such an issue, and I think I know who can — and should — take this on.
Athletes across America, the ones who always pretend to be role models, the jocks who love to convey the ultra-macho image, need to step up and do something about this. I’m serious here. I am even willing to supply the slogan they can use:
Real Men –and Women — Don’t Bully.
This is an idea that can work. The bullying/teen suicide issue has come to the forefront after the death of Tyler Clementi. He is the Rutgers freshman who was so distraught after classmates streamed a video of him in a gay sexual encounter that he jumped off the George Washington Bridge.
Sadly, Clementi is only one of many that have turned this thing into a full-fledged crisis. The statistics are as depressing as they are astounding. Teens all across the country are killing themselves after being teased or bullied for being different. It’s happening at school, on the internet, on the streets. It’s everywhere.
Jocks can help fight this. Really, this is an idea that can work.
Can you imagine, for instance, TV spots featuring, oh, say Ray Lewis of the Ravens or Dwight Freeney of the Colts, guys who are recognized among the meanest and toughest characters out there, pointing a finger at the screen and telling kids the truth about bullying?
They can explain that only cowards bully people. Only those who are insecure about themselves go out of their way to make others feel bad.
Patches can be made and worn by baseball and basketball and soccer stars, as well. This isn’t strictly a male issue, either. Women have been bullied and teased as well, and in many cases the ladies have been even more vicious than the guys.
Lately, you’ve seen athletes wearing pink in support of the fight for breast cancer, and that’s a wonderful cause. But this teen suicide thing deserves some recognition of its own.
You’ve all seen the TV commercial recently featuring Yankees manager Joe Girardi and closer Mariano Rivera taking over for the guy who can’t finish his monster burrito. It’s a clever bit.
But how about if some of that same television time is donated to a cause that is threatening to take even more teen lives unless something is done quickly? How about people from the corporate level to the media to the world of sports combining their talents to tackle this issue head on?
Can’t you see it now? Peyton Manning and Derek Jeter and Kobe Bryant and Serena Williams all imploring kids to stand up for what’s right.
Real Men — and Women — Don’t Bully.
It’s time to call or e-mail or tweet the offices of commissioners Roger Goodell, Bud Selig and David Stern. It’s time to take action.
I can’t think of a better cause for America’s athletes to rally around. Can you?
— STEVE BISHEFF