Friday, April 27, 2012

Shea McClennin: Lots of Positives with Bears Top Draft Pick

The Bears picked Boise State linebacker Shea McClennin as their first selection in the 2012 NFL draft. McClennin comes from a strong college program whose last graduating class includes the winningest seniors in college football history. Some expresses surprise that the Bears picked McClennin, but he is remarkably gifted athlete who keeps getting better and better. While he is expected to play defensive end to complement Julius Peppers, he is versatile enough to fill in at other positions if needed. McClellin is 6’-3”, 260 pounds and fast--he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.63 seconds at the combine. Freaky fast Brian Urlacher’s best time was about the same.

McClellin played football, basketball and baseball at Marsing High. At 6’3” he decided football was going to be his college sport although he was a very good basketball player. Sports writers in Boise have suggested that he is guy who is still figuring out just how good he is.

McClennin grew up at the cusp of two small towns: Marsing and Caldwell Idaho. He was raised by his grandparents who adopted him at a young age because his mom was very young. Living on the farm with its unending chores and responsibilities gave him the opportunity to develop the kind of maturity and discipline that should help him stay the course in Chicago. According to the Bears web site, McClennin will be wearing number 99. Most will recall that's Dan Hampton's jersey number. That a good start for a young man.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Sporting Chance Press is the publisher of Patrick McCaskey's Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout and other fine sports books. Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout is a personal chronicle of Chicago Bears Senior Director Patrick McCaskey that looks back at decades of spiritual enrichment and life lessons from athletes, coaches, religious and everyday people. McCaskey recalls the stories of those who strived to make the cut on and off the field—plus people who left comfortable lives to serve the under-served in extraordinary ways. Order online.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Michael Floyd in 2012 Draft

Michael Floyd is another interesting pro prospect in the 2012 draft. He's a big wide receiver, about 6'3" and 220 lbs. His college stats are superb with 271 receptions for 3,686 yards and 37 touchdowns. Some scouts say that he does not have explosive speed nor great moves, but his scouting combine time for 40 yards was 4.47 seconds. Some scouts suggest that he looked in much better shape at the combine and that he had been banged up during the Irish season.

When you watch the ND film highlights, he does not look especially quick nor fast, but he always looks strong. On Floyd's behalf however, on film he seemed to be catching many passes last year in which he was not led very well or he had to slow down to take advantage of a open area between coverage. Pro teams that are looking for the bigger wide-receiver will be attracted to Floyd, whether they will be attracted in the first half of the first round is another story.

Almost all college stars are questionable pro prospects. Floyd is not a slam dunk pro star, but he has good size and speed. He had a few injuries at Notre Dame and was arrested on alcohol-related charges a few times during his college years. He could have been kicked off the team. These are mentioned in scouting reports as draft considerations.

There is so much at stake for a young man to look good going into a draft and Floyd has looked great. Some say Floyd played like a man among boys on the Irish team this past season, others say that his contributions were overrated. Some say he is a character risk, others say he has a tremendous work ethnic and he is a perfectionist. There are certainly broken records in his wake all over the playing field at Notre Dame. He is also a large strong receiver who can block. Physically, he looks like the kind of receiver many pro teams want to acquire.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sporting Chance Press is the publisher of Patrick McCaskey's Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout and other fine sports books. Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout is a personal chronicle of Chicago Bears Senior Director Patrick McCaskey that looks back at decades of spiritual enrichment and life lessons from athletes, coaches, religious and everyday people. McCaskey recalls the stories of those who strived to make the cut on and off the field—plus people who left comfortable lives to serve the under-served in extraordinary ways. Order online.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Patrick McCaskey Speaks Great Falls Central Catholic High School

Patrick McCaskey visited Great Falls Central Catholic High to speak with students and to keynote the Celebration fundraiser. His visit was covered by the KFBB, the ABC station covering Great Falls and North Central Montana. Here is the KFBB story and film.

The story was also covered locally by the Great Falls Tribune. Here's the Tribune's Story.

The Great Falls Central Catholic High School Celebration! is an annual event highlighting the success of the Catholic school system in Great Falls. Celebration 2012 was made possible with the support of General Distributing Company, headquartered in Great Falls.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sporting Chance Press is the publisher of Patrick McCaskey's Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout and other fine sports books. Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout is a personal chronicle of Chicago Bears Senior Director Patrick McCaskey that looks back at decades of spiritual enrichment and life lessons from athletes, coaches, religious and everyday people. McCaskey recalls the stories of those who strived to make the cut on and off the field—plus people who left comfortable lives to serve the under-served in extraordinary ways. Order online.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Two Books that Help Discourage Bullying

Tomie dePaola has been one of the most popular childrens picture book authors and illustrators for decades. The problem of bullying is getting a lot more attention these days and we hope more is written on the fact that Tomie wrote a book called Oliver Button is a Sissy that was first published way back in 1979. Oliver runs into tough times because he is more of an artsy kid than an athlete. He likes dancing, which gives him exercise--and helps build his self esteem when someone at school recognizes his achievement in it. Go here for Elizabeth Kennedy's About.com review. Tomie dePaola has been one of my favorite childrens book illustrators and authors for many years. Go here for his site.

Exercise and Bullying

We've written on this site about the need for kids to get exercise and certainly athletics is a great way for most kids to do just that. If kids are not playing a sport, riding a bike, swimming, running or doing something that involves good physical exercise that's a problem. (Of course, there are some kids who can't exercise because of a medical limitation.) In Tomie dePaola's book, Oliver does something that provides good exercise--he dances.

I do not believe that parents should allow their kids to avoid all exercise. There is a risk in doing just that. Many parents today believe that their child is just "different." Different is OK, but I think almost all kids should participate in PE at school. I think teachers need to do all they can to make sure that the school environment is a positive one for everyone. Kids need to be encouraged to participate in physical education and physical education should be supported by parents. Parents who heavily criticize physical education programs based on their experiences long ago, need to understand what their kids schools are offering today. If kids are being bullied in these programs, the programs need to be changed. See my post on Fred Kaiser's program at Lundahl Middle School. Exercise has been shown to help kids in so many ways and many believe it also helps a person's emotional well-being. Doctors dealing with patients with depression often suggest diet and exercise along with therapy and medicines. I would be concerned that if a kid is allowed to avoid exercise, any criticisms received from his or her peers may seem all the more painful if the lack of exercise is contributing to some kind of depression or perhaps affecting self confidence.

Back to Tomie

Tomie dePaola's book Oliver Button is a Sissy helps to encourage kids to understand the importance of being themselves and allowing others to do the same. Kids need to support each other and their interests and differences. The movie "Bully" that is out today is helping people to understand the awful harm that bullying can cause. When kids are exposed to movies like "Bully" the issue of bullying become a flesh and blood issue. Once kids start to champion a cause, that cause will grow powerful and spread very fast.

At Sporting Chance Press

We didn't set out to publish a book on bullying. However, Mike Cameron, found himself emotionally tuned into Fred Merkle who would certainly qualify as someone who was bullied severely. Mike was so inspired by stories of the horrid treatment that Merkle and his family received that he wrote a book on it called Public Bonehead, Private Hero: The Real Legacy of Baseball Fred Merkle.

Fred Merkle, was a young 19 year old New York Giant who was filling in for an injured veteran in an important game against the mighty Chicago Cubs in 1908. The game was tied going into the bottom of the ninth inning. Merkle who was on first, walked off the base path after the apparent end of the hotly contested game when a teammate on third scored. Merkle was called out for not tagging second based on a rule that was rarely enforced (if ever) under the circumstances at the time. Because thousands of fans had run onto the field on their way to the exits, the umpire ruled the game a tie rather than attempt to have the crowd return to their seats for extra innings. Merkle's team cried foul, but the press focused all of its muckraking venom on the unfortunate Fred Merkle and christened him “bonehead” for the remainder of his life. Merkle became baseball’s number one scapegoat.

Merkle was lambasted in the press after the game, and then again after a special rubber match was played at the end of the season because the Giants and Cubs were tied for the Pennant. Because the Giants lost the match and the Cubs went on to win the World Series, the newspaper reporters were merciless. The reporters venom spread to the fans and it lasted throughout Merkle's long career. Every mistake Merkle would make in his long career might be captioned in the paper as another error by Bonehead Merkle.

Bullying is the right term for what was done to Merkle because he was essentially defenseless against the national press. Before the incident, Merkle was a handsome young athlete who spoke two languages, had been an excellent student and was brought up in a strict immigrant family. After the incident, Merkle was made out to be a bonehead, a clown who could do nothing right, a figure to be laughed at and ridiculed. Merkle went about his business, raised a family through the Depression and war years. He surrounded himself with people he loved and he survived.

Cameron's book, Public Bonehead, Private Hero gives the historical background to the game, describes the importance that the public put on baseball at the time, examines the national pastime with passion, and recounts the slights and struggles that the Merkle family faced. Although the Merkle game was played over a hundred years ago, it is still a topic that is discussed and written about today. Most current discussion on Merkle still casts aspersions on the man's intelligence and character. They still don't get it right.

For those who want to bring attention to the issue of bullying, the Merkle experience is an excellent topic for adults to understand the long lasting impact and harm that such bullying can have on the innocent. The fact that such bullying can happen to anyone, including an athletic, intelligent, strong man is also instructive. It is everyone's problem. For more on Public Bonehead, Private Hero. The book is currently available only through our web site.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

"Bully," Bulling and Fred Merkle: Public Bonehead, Private Hero

There are many things going on with Bullying prevention and awareness this month because of the release of the movie "Bully," which calls attention to the issue in a dramatic way. See NEA story.

Our stake in bullying prevention is a sports book that we published called Public Bonehead, Private Hero: The Real Legacy of Baseball's Fred Merkle.

We encourage teachers, coaches, parents, administrators and young adults to read about how the number one scapegoat of sports, Fred Merkle, was bullied and maligned.

Merkle's Story

You need to go way back in time to America's Progressive Era before radio, TV and seemingly light years before the Internet, the newspapers ruled the day. This was the time of Teddy Roosevelt's Bully Pulpit, the Model T, the Wright Brothers and the Great Race. The sport of baseball was in many places the number one amusement and held a great place of importance for many Americans. Americans took baseball very seriously!

On September 23, 1908, 19-year old Fred Merkle was the youngest player on the New York Giants. He was slotted into the lineup at first base to replace a wounded veteran against the mighty Chicago Cubs of Tinker, Evers and Chance fame. The pressure was on when Merkle came up to bat in the bottom of the ninth with the score tied 1—1. With two outs and Moose McCormick on first, the youngster rifled a single to right field easily advancing the slow-footed Moose McCormick to third. Shortstop slugger Al Bridwell, up next, whacked a low liner that knocked the second base umpire down on its way to shallow center field. As McCormick crossed the plate with the “winning run,” Merkle turned from the base path and raced towards the clubhouse.

Modern fans know that even if a team scores on such a play, the runner should advance to the next base and tag it to avoid a force-out. The score is nullified on the force out.

Unfortunately for Fred Merkle, in 1908 this rule had not been enforced, especially when the winning hit traveled to the outfield. On September 23rd, it was different. Merkle was called out, the game was ruled a tie, a protest ensued and at the end of the season a rubber match was played for the Pennant because the mighty Cubs and feisty Giants had identical records for the season. The Cubs won the rubber match, the Pennant and the World Series.

Merkle was unfairly Christened "Bonehead" from coast-to-coast. Newspapers ridiculed him unceasingly. His image was liberally used in cartoons that depicted him as a dunce and a fool. His name became part of the day's vernacular; to "merkle" was to make a stupid mistake. He would go on to play baseball for 16 years, but the fans and the media never forgot or forgave him for doing something that most every other player was doing at the time. In his obituary, the play was relived. And what's really remarkable, is that even today, his story is told over and over again as a example of stupid play. There have been more than a few Merkle champions, but the shameful lesson is that once someone is so maligned and bullied, a reputation may be lost forever.

Merkle Today

Each year, the Merkle game is discussed in TV and radio booths, in newspapers and in other printed and electronic venues. Media contacts looking for a Merkle expert can write us here at Sporting Chance Press (lmj.norris@gmail.com) to set up interview time with Cameron who is happy to help explain the context of the game and what happened to Merkle during and after his playing career.

One of Merkle's greatest fans is David Stalker of Watertown, Wisconsin. Watertown is the birth place of Fred Merkle. David is a sports historian who has been instrumental in honoring many of baseball's greatest players from the Deadball Era. Here is the Facebook page that shows the monuments that David has put up. Here's a wonderful short piece on Fred Merkle written by David.

Sporting Chance Press author Mike Cameron wrote the book on Fred Merkle. Literally. We call it Public Bonehead, Private Hero: The Real Legacy of Baseball's Fred Merkle.

We believe that if teachers and coaches can convey the story of Merkle, kids will come to understand that:

1. Anyone can be bullied, even strong, smart and athletic people like Fred Merkle.
2. Bullying can have a lasting impact on those being bullied and their families.
3. Bullying is unsportsmanlike and coward-like.
4. Bullying has been going on for a long time.

You can get the inside scoop any time. Simply order Public Bonehead, Private Hero at Sporting Chance Press. The book is also available at many public libraries throughout the country.

Six months from now in October, Bullying-Prevention Month will also create more interest. Bullying Prevention is also a initiative sponsored by the PACER Center - a parent center for families of children and young adults with disabilities—and cosponsored by NEA, the National Coalition for Parent Involvement in Education, and National PTA. These organizations are encouraging communities to work together to increase awareness of the prevalence and impact of bullying on children. You can find more information at the NEA site.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Athlete Role Models: Whether They Like It or Not!

We've written before about how kids can be greatly disappointed when a highly regarded player does not live up to the principles of good sports and character. Life can be so disappointing when we see one sports hero after another fall prey to selfish or hurtful behavior. There are DUIs, spousal abuse, drug abuse, gun crimes, assaults and many other kinds of problems that we have seen in the lives of athletes whose play has made them role models for others.

One suggestion that we have made in one post was that even if the athlete does not live up to our expectations, the principles that are espoused do not change. In other words, if an athlete represents his team and espouses fair play in speeches he gives to young athletes and then something happens in his life to suggest that he hasn't lived up to the ideal of fair play, that does not mean that we should reject the message. Fair play is a principle of play for all athletes--that's a clear message in sports regardless of how it plays out with some athletes.

New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow is someone who is getting a lot of attention these days. He even took to the pulpit recently in Georgetown, Texas on Easter to share his personal story of faith. Tebow puts himself out there as a role model for kids. Regardless of what religion you may belong to, in a broad sense Tebow's appeal is universal because he espouses something greater than himself. In some ways, Tebow is so upfront about his faith that you get the sense that many people are waiting to see him fall.

One thing Tebow stated recently was particularly interesting. There are some professional athletes who are vocal about how young fans should not look to them as role models. It could be that they simply don't want to be put on a pedestal, but it might also be that they do not want to have to worry about living their lives in such a way as to be role model for kids. In response to this thinking, Tebow simply stated that professional athletes are role models, whether they like it or not.

We believe there is wisdom in this statement.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sporting Chance Press is the publisher of Patrick McCaskey's Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout and other fine sports books. Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout is a personal chronicle of Chicago Bears Senior Director Patrick McCaskey that looks back at decades of spiritual enrichment and life lessons from athletes, coaches, religious and everyday people. McCaskey recalls the stories of those who strived to make the cut on and off the field—plus people who left comfortable lives to serve the under-served in extraordinary ways. Order online.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Who Will Top the Best Selling NFL Jersey List for 2012

It is fun to check out the most popular jerseys each year--it gives you an idea of where the fans hearts are at in any given year. Quarterbacks of course are still football's most popular players--many seem to fit the idea of all-American football heroes.

We mentioned in a post some time ago, that insurance giant Aon has a deal with Manchester United that was established in 2010 that reportedly cost $80 Million and literally puts "AON" on the team's Jerseys for four years. Right now the NFL has not gone in that direction, but you can bet that there's a lot of money in jersey sales.

Top NFL Sellers for 2011

For 2011, the Aaron Rodgers jersey was the top-selling according to sources from NFLshop. Second to Rodgers was none other than Tim Tebow. Peyton Manning was not in the 10 lists that I have seen--certainly due to his injury last year.

Troy Polamalu, Pittsburgh Steelers popular safety with the NFL's most popular hair, has the number three most popular jersey. Drew Brees's jersey was the fourth most popular while the fifth most popular jersey was Tom Brady's.

The top defensive player jersey was Clay Matthews' at number six. Pretty impressive that Green Bay had two in the top ten. Philadelphia Quarterback Michael Vick's jersey came in at seven while rival quarterback Eli Manning's dashed home at eight. Dallas quarterback Tony Romo's shirt ranks nine while teammate wide receiver Miles Austin's ranks 10th. These rankings are a little dicey in that the seem to change often and I have not seen anything official that states that these are final for the year.

Of course, jerseys come in a lot of colors and styles today. There are special women's jerseys and of course, many made for kids. I would think that the jersey order above is really a collective ranking--someone added up a number of different jerseys that had each players name on them.

April 15 is when Nike takes over as the official jersey supplier to the NFL. Right now for 2012, I understand that Peyton Manning and Tim Tebow are dominating jersey sales.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sporting Chance Press is the publisher of Patrick McCaskey's Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout and other fine sports books. Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout is a personal chronicle of Chicago Bears Senior Director Patrick McCaskey that looks back at decades of spiritual enrichment and life lessons from athletes, coaches, religious and everyday people. McCaskey recalls the stories of those who strived to make the cut on and off the field—plus people who left comfortable lives to serve the under-served in extraordinary ways. To Order.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Top Running Back in 2012 Draft: Trent Richardson

Trent Richardson is picked by several sources to be the top running back in the 2012 NFL draft. He is coming up as the fourth or fifth pick on several draft discussion sites.

Richardson is a short-stocky quick back who broke former Alabama teammate Mark Ingram's rushing record with 1,679 yards of his own last season while notching 21 rushing touchdowns. His 29 receptions totaled 338 receiving yards and included three touchdowns. On film (for me) two things stand out for Richardson: 1. He has an incredible lateral leap that allows him to change running lanes with lightening speed. 2. He smoothly combines athleticism and guts especially when he nears the end zone. He also gets high marks for the punishment he doles out to would-be tacklers. Although he is a "small" by NFL standards--just 5'9"--he is 228 lbs. He is 30 pounds heavier than Ahmad Bradshaw who is also 5'9" and about 30 pounds heavier than retired Lions' great Barry Sanders'(5'8"). Richardson is 15 pounds heavier than Emmet Smith who played for the Cowboys at 216. Richardson is extremely strong and he does not strike me as the kind of back that is going to be taken out in short yardage situations around the goal line.

Some suggest he is the best back to come out of college since Adrian Peterson. Peterson is also known for his strength and punishing running style, but he is 6'1". Based on Richardson's ranking on the various draft scouting reports, his height will not scare a lot of teams away. Recent success of smaller backs Maurice Jones-Drew (5'7"), and Darren Sproles (5'6")might be having an effect.

However, there is a sense that picking a running back in the first round is rolling the dice. Most backs have short careers and often very good ones are found pretty far down the draft order. Still, since Richardson is so clearly this year's leading running back prospect, if he does fall down the list, it probably will not be by much.

Richardson has two daughters who were born while he was in high school. His mother, Katrina Richardson, had three biological sons and also adopted three more--one of whom has lived with Trent. The Richardsons lived in a Pensacola housing project. Trent Richardson is known to have an incredible work ethic and had a 3.26 GPA at Alabama. For a personal story on Richardson see Mark Schlabach's ESPN article.

Image Above: Richardson's University of Alabama School Photo.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sporting Chance Press is the publisher of Patrick McCaskey's Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout and other fine sports books. Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout is a personal chronicle of Chicago Bears Senior Director Patrick McCaskey that looks back at decades of spiritual enrichment and life lessons from athletes, coaches, religious and everyday people. McCaskey recalls the stories of those who strived to make the cut on and off the field—plus people who left comfortable lives to serve the under-served in extraordinary ways.

Stats on Fred Merkle at Baseball-Reference.Com

If you look at baseball stats of old-time players you are probably familiar with Baseball-Reference.com. The site has statistics on players, teams, seasons, managers and more. For fans of old-time baseball, it's a great place to go for information on baseball history.

One of the greatest stories in baseball history is that of Fred Merkle, the New York Giant was named "bonehead" by the press because as a young player he walked off the base path in a critical game after the "winning run" was scored before touching the next base. Although it was a common practice at the time, Merkle paid a dear price for doing what everyone else was doing. The umpire decided to enforce a "dormant" rule that was on the books and Merkle became the brunt of the muckraking press of the time.

The Merkle game was in 1908, but the stats on Baseball-Reference.com show that the event happened very early in his career-- a career that continued for almost two decades. Merkle's Giants ended up sharing first place with the Chicago Cubs and a rubber match was needed because the "Merkle Game" was called a tie. The Cubs went on to win the match, the Pennant and the World Series--the last World Series for the Cubs in over 100 years. Interestingly enough, Merkle would play for the might Cubs in the twilight of his professional career.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sporting Chance Press is the publisher of Mike Cameron's Public Bonehead, Private Hero: The Real Legacy of Baseball's Fred Merkle and other fine sports books. Public Bonehead, Private Hero is a great American story of baseball’s Fred Merkle, who was at the confluence of Progressive Era history and baseball legend. The book sets the stage historically and then recounts the most famous play in baseball history. A young New York Giant, Fred Merkle, walks off the base path after the apparent end of a hotly contested game only to be ruled out later on a rarely enforced technicality. The Giants cried foul. The press focused all of its muckraking venom on the unfortunate Fred Merkle and christened him “bonehead” for the remainder of his life, insuring his fame as baseball’s number one scapegoat. To Order.

Toledo Free Press Fred Merkle Article Features Sporting Chance Author Interview


Jeff McGinnis of the Toledo Free Press wrote an article on Fred Merkle that was posted on-line. The article features some thoughts of Sporting Chance Press author Mike Cameron who wrote Public Bonehead, Private Hero: The Real Legacy of Baseball's Fred Merkle. Mike's book is a classic text for anyone interested in one of the greatest baseball stories of all time.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sporting Chance Press is the publisher of Mike Cameron's Public Bonehead, Private Hero: The Real Legacy of Baseball's Fred Merkle and other fine sports books. Public Bonehead, Private Hero is a great American story of baseball’s Fred Merkle, who was at the confluence of Progressive Era history and baseball legend. The book sets the stage historically and then recounts the most famous play in baseball history. A young New York Giant, Fred Merkle, walks off the base path after the apparent end of a hotly contested game only to be ruled out later on a rarely enforced technicality. The Giants cried foul. The press focused all of its muckraking venom on the unfortunate Fred Merkle and christened him “bonehead” for the remainder of his life, insuring his fame as baseball’s number one scapegoat. To Order.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Bully Bully

"Bully," is a new documentary that is getting a lot of attention in the media. It tells the story of five families dealing with the issue. People commenting on the movie demonstrate a wide range of emotions on bullying.

Much of the focus on school-age bullying is the result of some horrific incidents that have resulted in tragedy. People today see bullying as a potential cause for suicide in the more vulnerable age groups. In some communities these are on the rise. Kids seem to be affected by the example of others--even in something as awful as suicide.

We all know that kids face many problems that they perceive as much more important than most adults around them fathom. It's very easy to underestimate a kid's feelings and perception of problems. And in today's world, kids see a lot of different ways people react to problems--often violently. They are seldom exposed to just one healthy response to anything. This is perhaps a big difference in our society today.

More and more People think of bullying as one of those acute problems that we need to understand much more as it greatly impacts our own kids and those around them.

There is no easy fix for bullying and there are probably very few experts. Many people suggest that the bully's parents were often bullies themselves. In these circumstances, some believe it's very difficult to get these parents to understand the issue to the point where they will cooperate effectively to stop it. Some still look at it like it's a natural part of growing up--suggesting that there will always be bullies and "outcasts" who get bullied--it will never change. They insist that Kids just need to stand up for themselves. Certainly kids need to stand up for themselves, but it is not likely to be the universal answer to bullying problems.

Situations can often be more complicated. Sometimes the kid who bullies others is suffering themselves from psychological problems that make it next to impossible for the bullied kid to defend against. These bullies don't necessarily care or even respond much when the bullied kid fights back. Some of these bullies may even get greater satisfaction when the bullied kid does fight back. When a child is being bullied, there may be two children who desperately need help not one.

Schools Must Face the Issue

Of course, most people will look to the schools to lead any efforts to work against bullying. The outcry for new programs will grow louder and some schools will make bullying the school problem du jour (if they haven't already)--at least for a while. Everyone knows that schools are not the best or the first place kids need to learn about human dignity, respect for others, self control--they need these from home. And yet, we know that families need help on these issues today. Even good parents can have kids with emotional or behavioral problems. It is important that parents continue to take responsibility for their children's behavior, but we should not ignore the fact that they need help.

Schools are faced with developing programs that work on making all our kids better and healthier human beings. Today schools help kids learn about treating other people with respect and feeling good about themselves regardless of how different they may be--working to improve their physical health and staying away from things that hurt them--controlling their anger and developing self-discipline--learning to live with and manage stress--and knowing when it's time to seek help for certain problems that seem beyond their grasp. Perhaps the schools will add bullying to programs that already exist or create more comprehensive programs that deal with the issue. I don't think it is helpful to pile one program on top of another--I think it makes more sense to create a comprehensive program that helps kids in a well rounded way throughout their schooling.

Generally, you see branded programs for a specific issue that gets wide distribution--sometimes with some special funding or grants. Recent programs have focused on drugs and drunk driving. Some of these have been notorious failures that cost many millions of dollars. Schools are of course, overburdened with demands in our society today. Some schools attempt to squeeze everything into a single health class. Kids might watch one horrific film after another about bad choices that others have made--educators hoping that the shock will work like a vaccination. Sometimes presentations are made by people who have paid the price personally for drunk driving or drug abuse. Certainly, these can help get important messages across to kids, but we may need a more comprehensive approach. Shouldn't our kids have a better healthier more compassionate sense of themselves as part of those 21st Century skills that the politicians and computer gurus have talked so much about? Can such programs help reduce the kind of behavior that leads to so many societal ills? It's hard to say. A lot of kids with problems just stop going to school.

How much are we willing to devote to helping all kids become healthier human beings through school programs? For every new program, there are other programs that must be reduced. Some parents don't even like their kids to take time for physical education even though such programs may be the only exercise some kids get. How will parents respond if the schools introduce comprehensive programs that focus on such mental and emotional health needs when they believe their own child couldn't possibly benefit from such a program? How will they respond when one program that may help their student is cut to make way for a program that serves more critical issue for others?

All you have to do is stand a few feet away from a teacher on an open house night for a real education on parental delusion and selfishness. You will often hear a parent talk about how wonderful their child is and how the teacher, the school, other kids, the coaches, and everyone else needs to work harder to see that their offspring gets the special attention and treatment they so richly deserve. Johnny is bored in AP Chemistry. Susie is just not an athletic kid and PE doesn't interest her. Why can't the school offer another semester of Chinese?

Most of the mental health and emotional problems that kids face today are not the kind of thing you want to see grow unattended for several years. A proactive approach to healthy mental and emotional health is needed--and it can't be a band-aid program or one class that each student must take once during high school. Programs to improve the health and well-being of students must be put front and center. Such programs won't solve all our ills, but they should help today's kids live in a healthier more peaceful world.
Copyright 2012, Sporing Chance Press
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sporting Chance Press is the publisher of Mike Cameron's Public Bonehead, Private Hero: The Real Legacy of Baseball's Fred Merkle and other fine sports books. Public Bonehead, Private Hero is a great American story of baseball’s Fred Merkle, who was at the confluence of Progressive Era history and baseball legend. The book sets the stage historically and then recounts the most famous play in baseball history. A young New York Giant, Fred Merkle, walks off the base path after the apparent end of a hotly contested game only to be ruled out later on a rarely enforced technicality. The Giants cried foul. The press focused all of its muckraking venom on the unfortunate Fred Merkle and christened him “bonehead” for the remainder of his life, insuring his fame as baseball’s number one scapegoat. Today, we would say Merkle was bullied unmercifully by the press. Public Bonehead, Private Hero reveals how baseball fans and the press never tired of recounting the “bonehead episode” and seeing Merkle relive the ignominy. The book discloses that the cartoon character that was Fred Merkle in the public eye was the opposite of the sensitive, intelligent man who went on with his life and career with courage and determination.