Standing Up

bystanderLike many of you, I was glued to my TV on Tuesday night watching the baseball wild card game between the Blue Jays and Orioles. And while the game itself was fascinating (and the right team won!), I have been just as interested in watching the “Beercangate” controversy unfold.

Just in case you haven’t been following the story, an almost-full can of beer was thrown from the outfield stands at an Oriole outfielder as he was making a catch. In the 48 hours since, police and amateur online detectives have been trying to unlock the mystery of “who threw it?” After one day without solid leads, police released the photo of a “person of interest”, a name soon followed and the world went berserk from Mississauga to Maryland and beyond.

What I cannot understand is how the culprit was not caught within 10 seconds of the incident. I have been to many sports games, concerts and other stadium events and I am pretty sure that I would be able to identify the beer chucker. I might know who in my section purchased a can, who was acting rowdy enough to endanger a player and mostly, I think I would notice anyone who took a huge wind-up to launch a projectile from that distance. I think I could do this for a few people either side or for a number of rows in front of me…maybe 10-15 persons or so. Everyone in that section was looking at the play; there must be at least a dozen people who saw it happen and could identify the person. The health of a baseball player and the reputation of Blue Jay fans are in question so why has no-one stepped up and pointed a finger? And if I was in the same position, would I have the integrity to do so myself?

I am wondering if this is the part of the challenge that schools have with anti-bullying strategies. I think our kids are WAY more likely to point out wrong-doings (publicly or anonymously) than we are because they have grown up with the message (at our school and previous ones) that wrong is wrong and that if you see something that shouldn’t be happening, you should tell an adult you trust. The kids get it but maybe parents (sorry, but the people in that section look to be parent-aged, not kids) aren’t quite there yet. How many of you remember being in a classroom after some sort shenanigans had taken place and heard the teacher say before storming out of the class “Nobody leaves this room until they confess!”? How effective was that? We sat there are argued with each other until one of our classmates falsely admitted (or was “pressured” into) their guilt.

Your kids will tell you that the real culprits are the people nearby who saw it happen and know who it was but didn’t say anything. It will be interesting to see if this “person of interest” is an innocent bystander or not. As our kids have been trained to recognize, the “innocent bystander” cannot be innocent while standing by, only when they stand up.

Chris Starkey
Administrative Principal
Mentor College/TEAM School

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