Although I always have been – and will always be – a Dallas Cowboys diehard, I got away from watching football games in general for a few years and have only started watching some games this season. I have many close friends who are Philadelphia Eagles fans, and I will occasionally watch their games, because I have no ill will towards the Eagles – except when they are playing the Cowboys, of course!

Upon my recent return to watching football games, I experienced seeing a lot of “taunting” calls, and assumed (yes, I know what assume does) that this was a new rule. I was surprised, when I did a little bit of research, to find out that the taunting rule and penalty has been around for a while and has been conversed about for several years in offseason competition committee meetings. Apparently, it’s been deemed that it’s happening too often and now the referees are throwing a yellow flag left and right to call this penalty. The NFL considers taunting to be “trying to entice that other player into some type of activity that is not allowed in football”, “the use of baiting or taunting acts or words that engender ill will between teams.” The penalty falls under ‘unsportsmanlike conduct’ and there are penalties in the amount of yardage gained in a play. A player who gets two taunting calls in one game is automatically ejected from the game. There are hefty fines that can also be attached to the call.

I’m going to go out on a limb a bit here. I’m not against the rule of taunting, but I truly believe that, after doing little or nothing for so many years about it, the pendulum has swung to the other side of the clock and there are too many penalties being called for it. These professional athletes are being paid millions of dollars to intentionally get their bodies pummeled by others and a few words from a player on the other team is going to hurt them? Football is a contact sport – one expects some flair of tempers among the amounts of aggression of adrenaline and testosterone that are released on the field. Put your finger in my face and say, “I’m gonna kill your kid and make you watch for hitting me like that” – Yeah, that’s taunting. Put that same finger in my face and say, “I’m coming after you next play, so watch out” – not so much.

Take it a step further and think about how many coaches get angry and loud, probably somewhat obnoxiously, at a referee when they don’t like a calling? We can’t hear it, but we can certainly see the level of anger when the TV camera pans that way from mere body language. Why are these non-athletic officials able to walk away from the anger without reaction – why aren’t these coaches penalized on behalf of their team for this same behavior that the refs seem to constantly be penalizing to the players?

Now, since I’m already out on the limb, let me take a few more steps out… For four (long) years, we in the United States watched our President, our Commander in Chief, our highest-ranking political leader, stand in front of a microphone and taunt the countless number of people who dared disagree with him. Major players were in and out of “his graces” all of the time, and he had the right of free speech allowing him to say the things he said. The true Trumpsters, at re-election time, stated that the rest of us were more upset about his persona and his words than about the good he did during his term. Whether you are a Trumpster or not, a Republican or a Democrat, be honest enough to say that his words and tirades instilled enough fear in all of us that we weren’t willing to risk standing up and putting up a dissent about his being allowed to behave like that. Personally, every time I saw Donald Trump release more vitriol when he opened his mouth, I couldn’t help but think about how much time, energy and money our country spends to stop bullying and practice acceptance in our school systems, but we will allow the President to be a bully without trying to stop him. Children emulate adult behaviors, so what should we come to expect in the future from our children?

My point is, again, that I am not opposed to this ruling of taunting when it can be proved to be hateful and harmful in word, but I think there need to be better boundaries about what is considered taunting. We are able to list what constitutes unsportsmanlike conduct in a physical manner to another player, so I think some guidelines need to be in place for what verbal conduct constitutes it as well.

Anyway, that’s my opinion and I’m sticking to it!

Nineteen Minutes

I’ve only ever once before written a book review here, but I just finished this book (Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult) and it has shaken me to the core.

I have NEVER read a fictional story that was so on-point to suspect it was non-fiction! Towards the end, my hands were shaking and I was teary-eyed. I’m not going to be a spoiler, but I want to share one excerpt that struck me like an arrow through the heart:

“Sterling (the name of the town in the book, substitute your town’s name) isn’t the inner city. You don’t find crack dealers on Main Street or households below the poverty level. The crime rate is virtually non-existent.

“That’s why people are so shell-shocked.

” They ask, “How could this happen here?

“Well, how could it not happen here?

“All it takes is a troubled kid with access to guns.

“You don’t have to go to an inner city to find someone who meets those criteria. You only have to open your eyes. The next likely candidate might be upstairs, or sprawled in front of your TV right now. But hey, you just go on pretending it won’t happen here. Tell yourself that you’re immune because of where you live or who you are.

“It’s easer that way, isn’t it?”

It may be a fictional book, but that’s an honest truth in our world! Every parent, every person who works in or for a school, anyone who works in an after-school program… We’ve all read about the victims of bullying and felt compassion. We’ve all listened, stunned, to four years of bullying coming from the highest political office. We all think it can’t be our kid who is being bullied or that it can’t be our kid who is doing the bullying. We don’t know how to truly protect the victims of bullying and so we often try to ‘sweep it under the rug’ and hope it will go away. Parents who have a child with violent and disruptive tendencies want to believe that it’s ‘just a phase and something the child will grow out of’ because those parents don’t know how to deal with it, either!

It’s time that we ALL open our eyes and see things as they are and take true and meaningful actions necessary to care for both the bully and the victim(s). Lip service just isn’t going to cut it anymore!

If your child is any one of them in this picture, you’re not doing your part!
This needs to be taught in school and adults need to stand up and take action against it happening!