Another U.S. Open Grand Slam tennis tournament is over. What stands out in this year’s competition? Unfortunately, it’s not the incredible play of the Americans. It’s our leading lady, Serena Williams. Serena is an amazing athlete, I love to watch her play tennis. She brings passion, gut and intensity to the game. But her game was overshadowed this Open by her bullying behavior toward the chair umpire.
At a time when we are spending thousands of dollars on programs to help stop bullying, we have one of the most recognized U.S. sports figures badgering an umpire on national TV. It was embarrassing. This time, she didn’t use language. It was a nicer form of bullying but it was still inappropriate and sent the wrong message to all the kids who look up to her. What was in her heart, came out at the time of battle. And it was ugly, the very thing she accused the umpire of being on the inside.
Bullying is a huge problem in our schools and we need athletes of her stature to model the opposite, not contribute to the problem. As much as I love her as an athlete, this was not a good moment for her.
So here is a short video I did with a few high school students looking at what works when it comes to stopping a bully.