Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Coach Whips Boys Into Shape

[TW: Child abuse; misogyny]

A male Mississippi high school basketball coach has been accused of "paddling" players on his boys basketball team as a means of discipline.

Three players, including one who the coach struck "daily and sometimes more than once daily" with a "five to ten pound weight belt," have filed a lawsuit. The coach has been suspended for 28 days without pay, but is still employed. In his own words, he justifies his actions thusly:

"I paddled my students... today, some of [sic] students have lost pride in their school and in their (sic) selves. Students are disrespecting teachers, administrators and other students by stealing cell phones, leaving off campus without permission, disrupting classroom teaching time, late for class and not following dress codes by wearing the pants on their butts and house shoes to school and on-court behavior. I took it upon myself to save these young men from the destruction of self and what society has accepted and become silent to the issues our students are facing on a daily basis."

Buried within the CNN article, we also learn that the coach "verbally abused basketball players, calling them 'sissy,' 'bitch,' 'wimp,' and 'soft.'"

This coach's actions embody the toxic, hypermasculine culture of sports at its very worst.

Through physical punishment, he taught his players that violence is okay- that, indeed, violence is necessary to "whip" those who misbehave into shape. With his slurs on half the human population, he taught boys that being a girl, or like one, is the worst thing a boy could be. Possibly, he justified his violence by telling his players that Real Men Take It, and that only wimps and sissies complained about it.

Although male coaches striking their players is relatively rare, or at least not largely discussed, their use of gendered slurs to denigrate women and girls is pervasive in the sports world. I hope we will one day start having national conversations about that.

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