MVP applies.

MVP, or Mentors in Violence Prevention, centers around men’s violence against women. We recently had a training with Foundation Year in this curriculum. The 90+ students split up by gender and went into break out groups to talk about the topic of Men’s violence against women. Ricardhy and I worked with the young men, opening dialogue and conversation about this subject. Having the safe space of a single gender group, we started to dive deeper and deeper into what masculinity means.

The day was challenging and filled with differing views and perspectives. We started to see the idea of manhood that these young men were learning from society. This “culture of manhood” that tells men that they need to be dominant, controlling, or strong has been exemplified through the recent Miami Dolphins hazing/bullying case. We often think of bullying as something that occurs between younger boys and teenagers, but through the Richie Incognito case we see that bullying can be in the locker room as well.

“Bullying is a learned behavior. It is when a person or group tries to hurt or control another person in a harmful way and has three defining characteristics. Deliberate – a bully’s intention is to hurt someone. Repeated – a bully often targets the same victim again and again. Power imbalanced – a bully chooses victims he or she perceives as vulnerable” 

If you have been keeping up with the news, you may have heard about the actions that Incognito are accused of. However, regardless of if these allegations are true, we have learned a few alarming things about sports culture. The Miami Dolphins and Incognito have commented on the allegations, saying that this was the culture of the team. Incognito, in an interview, had also commented that this was how his friendship was with Martin.

The sports culture that the Dolphins spoke of may have been to blame for the uncomfortable situation that Martin experienced. This, however, is not an uncommon occurrence. Martin may have been the one to speak up recently, but it is common knowledge that hazing happens on most levels of sports, be it High School, College, or Professional.

It seems as if the topics of manhood that we speak about at MVP is one that can be applied to why these hazing incidents occur, and why young men are victims of it. If this idea of manhood has become the norm, does it make it okay? Are all men expected to act in this way? If we don’t, should we be bullied and hazed until we fit that expectation?

My personal opinion, and my definition of manhood would disagree with the “social norm”. To draw from a recent training I had with middle school students, one of the boys stated that just because you don’t fit the definition set out by society, it doesn’t mean that you’re not a man. And it doesn’t mean that you are a man if you do meet those expectations.

This case has begun to show me the real world application of the trainings we do. Though progress is being made, there is still a lot of work to do. Though this case can be seen as a negative, there have been some positive reactionary elements to it as well. The NBA took the opportunity to remind its players that bullying will not be tolerated. Athletes everywhere will continue to be viewed as role models and leaders, whether they want to or not. Whether its the sports culture, the culture of manhood, or just a personal belief that guides the actions of athletes will inevitably become mindsets and lessons to the young men of society who observe them with a watchful eye. Let’s just hope that it’s positive.

A lot has happened… A lot more still to come!

A lot has happened in the last month at Sport in Society, and a lot is planned for the Fall semester. Last month we sent two of our staff to Boston Scholar Athletes to do a training session. The other co-op and I went to observe and to take pictures. It was a great opportunity to learn more about the facilitation process, and see Ricardhy and Betsy think on their feet and be adaptive. The group was great; they were very involved and connected our curriculum to what they were trying to do. They were able to bring their experiences, share with each other, and support each other as they prepared for their upcoming school year with the students.Image

Betsy and Ricardhy did a great job once again, setting the atmosphere with energy and enthusiasm, while also maintaining a sincerity that created a safe environment for everyone to share.

As Julia and I prepare for our facilitations, observing this training and having a mock facilitation has helped us get new ideas and become more confident. I am excited for the upcoming trainings that I will be participating in.

With the new school year, we said good bye to many of the interns that were here when we first arrived. However, we also recently got four new interns for the Fall! It’ll be great to get to know them better, and also to work with them here at Sport in Society.

Finally, we have been working on kicking off our student organization, Huskies for Sport in Society. Our first meeting is this Thursday and we have had a lot to do as we prepare for it. Everything seems to be coming together and I’m excited for the volunteer offerings we have for the student members!Image

My Experiences Facilitating

I’ve been at Sport in Society for just about a month now, as a Co-op intern. Prior to even joining the team, I was required to go to something called an MVP Institute. It was in the middle of Summer, so needless to say I wasn’t very excited to commute in three days in the middle of the week for something I didn’t have much interest in. The week prior to MVP, I was kicking and screaming, complaining to whoever would listen, about how I did not want to go, I would rather sleep until 2 pm and then play video games, or watch a movie.

I just have to say, life has a funny way of changing your mind.

I stepped into MVP and I felt very out of place. A lot of older professionals were sitting around a table drinking coffee and talking about where they worked, and here I was having not even started my internship. Fast forward to when the actual facilitating began, and I was so struck at how fluid the two Co-facilitators worked, and how genuine and sincere they were. They wanted to be there, and I could feel it, and I slowly began to understand what Sport in Society was about. By the third and final day, I was happy to come in and see these men and women that were going on this short but life changing journey with. On the final day was my first experience co-facilitating. I was nervous, but the Men’s Break out room supported me greatly, and so did my co-facilitator.

I didn’t know what I would be doing with this “certification” until I came to Sport in Society this past July, but I definitely saw it as a useful tool to get people to think critically. I think it boils down to this statement: People will come to understand more fully, if they come to that conclusion themselves, more so than if someone tells them to come to that conclusion. (Don’t quote me on this).

Second came the Bullying Prevention Institute. I didn’t co-facilitate or anything at this event, but I did get to observe, and assist. One of the biggest takeaways I got from this was, once again, even if you’re not too excited about driving to Franklin in early morning traffic, everything has a purpose. Being at this institute showed me that there isn’t one right way to facilitate. Everyone has their own style and it showed through the three pairs of facilitators. Each group had their own attitudes and backgrounds, filled with their own challenges and ideas, and seeing each facilitators’ style work effectively was just awesome. I was excited as I saw students breaking out of their shells, and also being challenged in their mindsets, while also seeing facilitators think on their feet, and adjusting on the fly. In the end, it was a very fruitful experience for the students who learned a lot, and for me who was able to observe.

But this posed a challenge for me, would I be able to think on my feet and adjust? I only facilitated once, and it was a low pressure venue of guys who all had to experience the same thing and facilitate as well. They sympathized with me, and supported me, and I with them.

Eventually the Bay State Leadership training came along, and I was slated to go as a co-facilitator. I was very excited, and a little nervous. I was a little bit wary of how the kids would feel, coming in on one of their precious Summer nights because they were captains of their sports teams, but this not only prepared me mentally, but had me worried on how I would react. The night was quick, and I definitely missed some opportunities to facilitate the discussion more. I am not sure whether it was a product of the timing, or the group dynamics, or if I was just hesitant. Though it had its ups and downs, I definitely learned more by watching, observing, and even facilitating a bit in my group.

Overall, I had a great time at all three events and I obviously have room to grow in facilitating. I still need to discover my style, and from hearing everyone else and their input, the more I do it, the more comfortable it will be, and I can’t wait to see how I grow in this.

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