Ball hard or bully hard

Lily Friebel, Staff reporter

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Chris Bene had no expectation about the hazing he was going to receive when he was a freshman joining a varsity level basketball team. Bene, now a senior at Sequoia High School in Redwood City, CA was hazed and embarrassed along with other teammates during the basketball season.

“I would have to clean up everything. Clean rooms after tournaments. I would have to get everyone water during the game. They made me carry a pink backpack to make me look ridiculous,” Bene said.

Minor league relief pitcher for the San Francisco Giants, Shane Loux, argues that this type of treatment has purpose within the team dynamic.

“There are times when things occurs for reasons that the general public just can’t understand,” Loux said. “Bullying used to be when someone pushed someone around physically, now with how sensitive people can be, bullying can be used to define almost anything.”

Although the hazing Bene went through seems common, and doesn’t sound like it’s the worst possible thing that could happen, the mentality that some players can treat their peers as lesser, can have a deep impact for the rest of the victim’s careers. This past year, there was a bullying incident at Woodside High School, also in Redwood City. When the varsity basketball team, comprised of freshmen to seniors, was away on a tournament, two seniors tied two freshman to chairs, put make-up on them and physically hurt them. The senior’s punishment: suspended for a couple of games and a court date.

“I know [the freshman] didn’t feel part of the team after,” Bene said.

Coaches of the varsity basketball team at Sequoia, sat players down with other players they may not have known too well. They would talk about how bullying is not tolerated in the program, and there is no room for it in this sport.

According to bullyingstatistics.org, about 30 percent of students in the United Stated are involved in bullying on a regular basis either as a victim, bully or both. 77 percent of students experience verbal bullying, which makes it the most popular type of bullying. Out of the 77 percent, 14 percent have suffered from severe reactions to the abuse. Students experience poor self-esteem, depression and anxiety about going to school and even suicidal thoughts as a result of being bullied by their peers.

Bullying doesn’t stop after incidents at a younger age. Once athletes leave high school, professional sports see their fair share of it too. ​The San Francisco 49ers recently acquired offensive lineman Jonathan Martin after he left the Miami Dolphins last October due to bullying from teammates. Martin played for 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh when Harbaugh coached the Stanford football team. Martin’s old Dolphin’s teammate, Richie Incognito was the main bullier, and the big reason as to why Martin left the team.

“I think there’s deeper issues that are more society based, and I think specifically Incognito has some issues he has to deal with personally,” Community Relations Manager of the San Francisco Giants, Albert Jaimes said. “It could be a lot of things in his past, but I think bullying is something not needed in life in general, especially sports.”

A community relations manager is responsible for communications, public relations, social media, events, and content creation, among other things. Jaimes roll is to mediate situations that happen in the clubhouse.

“I think bullying is something that might be on any team, and no matter what it shouldn’t be welcome because when you’re bullying someone, you’re not messing around, and you’re attacking them on their views of something or their lifestyle,” Bene said.

Bene has the view that hazing may not be as bad as bullying, but still has an affect on the victim. Hazing can be apart of the athletic culture for some sports, and it convinces people into thinking it’s okay to treat pears with less respect.

“While hazing is kind of the same for every player, they’re getting laughed at as a team, and not actually being [physically] hurt by it,” Bene said.

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investigating social change through the lens of sports
Ball hard or bully hard