Middle School Sports Buffers Against Bullying

This letter was submitted by Rep. Roberto DaSilva.

Dear Governor Chafee:

Recently, the state budget commission appointed to the city of East Providence has decided to deprive our students and community of the ability to participate in middle school sports. Although I fully understand the difficult job the commission must undertake, I fear this move will have dire effects on our students’ educational experience and will serve to erode our sense ofcommunity.

On Feb. 23, hundreds of East Providence residents joined with our youth to voice their objections to the elimination of middle school sports. It was touching to witness the confidence and conviction these students demonstrated when they stood up before a large crowd to testify to the benefits they have gained in their academic and social development because of the schoolsports programs. As you know, the middle school years are the most formidable years of a child’s life. These students are leaving the comfort of their elementary school environments – where they have been for the past six years with the same student body – and are put into a new environment with unfamiliar peers and teachers. Their mentors have been left behind and their friends may have gone to a different middle school.

It is at this point in their young lives that bullying and other negative influences can have such serious negative impacts on a child’s development. Middle school sports allow the student athlete to become part of the school community and to build new and long-lasting friendships. They learn the value of teamwork and the valuable lessons learned when you win and lose. Many of the students testified to the importance of their coach in their lives as both a teacher and mentor. Students spoke of how middle school sports have forced them to work harder at their academic goals and how they have led to remarkable improvements in test scores.

Middle school sports benefits more than just the student athlete. It benefits the entire school as it brings the student body together to root for its school team. It builds pride within the school and the community. In many instances, this is the only opportunity some members of our community have to come together for a positive common goal: rooting for and supporting their student athletes. Many in East Providence refer to this as “Townie Pride.” It is an essential part of the fabric of our community.

After having been exposed to the testimony of these young students this past Thursday, I question why middle school sports are not part of the state’s Basic Education Plan. If our goal is to give our students an excellent education with valuable life lessons that will serve them for years to come, why aren’t we requiring middle school sports throughout the state? On a personal note, my 10-year-old son who has been playing soccer since age 5 was recently expressing how excited he was to join the soccer team. His hopes have been dashed by the budget commission’s decision to eliminate middle school sports. He was so upset that when I mentioned there was a protest scheduled this past Thursday, he asked to be part of it. It was an excellent opportunity to teach him about civic involvement.

I hope you will intervene to ensure that his dreams and those of more than 500 other East Providence children are realized by saving our middle school sports.

Roberto DaSilva
Representative – District 63

Rumford Resident March 04, 2012 at 07:19 PM
Thanks Ray. Perhaps the Patch servers are legacy Soviet Union or imports from present day China
Arthur Dolloff March 05, 2012 at 01:33 AM
GMA or whoever you are, I present no thesis, report or conclusion, what I do present is my opinion based on bringing two children thru the sports and extracurricular activities that are still offered today. If you think that electronic media has an influence on bullying then where is the revulsion for allowing cell phones in schools? You appear to speak as someone with teaching experience or background, at least your casual references to John Hopkinsand Harvard University and other specialized reports tends to support that observation. The real point is that the city does not have the money for these programs right now. Hell there are teachers using their own funds to supply necessary daily supplies. A politician and supporters allegedly using groups of students coached to present a slick and biased presentation for the purpose of swaying public opinion and furthering their efforts to sway officials to use more taxpayer money to benefit a small portion of the citizenry surely does not require a thesis, contrary it takes common sense. Common sense not distorted by innuendo and rhetoric ineffectually supported by vague allusions to great university studies and school pageant techniques used to influence feeble minds. This letter to the Governor does not speak for the majority of EP taxpayers and needs to be shown for the self-serving effort to gain favor on Election Day that it is. If you have proof contrary to my opinion please present it.
Arthur Dolloff March 05, 2012 at 01:40 AM
I will stand up and thank the editors of Patch.com and their support staff for enduring and fixing the problem we all were affected by. THANK YOU PATCH
JC March 05, 2012 at 03:30 AM
Patch is actually owned by AOL. If you want more info, go here: http://www.patch.com/about
b1 March 07, 2012 at 10:59 PM
Gregg Amore March 08, 2012 at 12:14 AM
Mr. Dolloff, My name is Gregg Amore and I am a teacher and coach...and one of those people you referenced as having spent thousands of dollars on supplies and equipment for my students and athletes. I did not take a position on preserving middle school sports. I think everything is on the table. I took exception to your insinuation that school sports divide a school and support bullying. I thought this was unfair and unsupported by any evidence. I thought it was strange that you would accuse the writer of making an assertion without proof while you were doing the same thing. You may be right about the motivation of the writer, I do not know what is in his heart or mind. It is hard to reference extensive studies in much more than a casual manner in a blog. I have written ed research pieces on the positive effects of extracurriculars and I have some training in identifying and stopping teen bullying. I was not, as you suggest, trying to use "rhetoric ineffectually supported by vague allusions to great university studies". I was attempting to point out the merits of middle school supports and refute your insinuation that student athletes tend to support bullying. That is not my experience and I have seen no research to support it. I agree that we have bigger fish to fry than middle school sports and I have no indication as to what the majority of EP taxpayers want. I have worked for years raising money for school sports and that, in the end, may be the solution.
Rumford Resident March 08, 2012 at 12:51 AM
Why do we need to have bake sales etc.... Tsonos was quoted in the Projo and elsewhere as saying he knows where to find the money..... So we have a tax hike every year, but we need to sell brownies to pay for sports? This is a management issue and luckily we have OKeefe and team in place to solve the problem that the bought and paid for school commiteee (working families of RI) gave us..... And for the rank and file teacher, arent you glad your forced dues go to pay for political campaigns that gave us 'leaders' like Tsnonos, Rossi, and lets not forget our liaison to the school committee Katie Kleyla. November is getting closer.... the only question will be what will come first, the receiver or the election......
James Durfee March 08, 2012 at 02:44 AM
I understand Mr. Doloffs point...the "cult of the athlete" has historically had a major impact on bullying. It is often ingrained in the sports mentalty particularly with hazing. If we put more focus on extracurricular activities like the science club or the academic decathalon we would be better off as a society. Here is a section from Penn State's research on bullying which brought up Columbine: "The blame for school shootings has been pinned, in part, on teachers and administrators who failed to recognize and intervene in a chronic bullying situation. The infamous "basement tapes" made by Columbine shooters Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold contain many references to their murderous rage against the school cliques—particularly the jocks—whose bullying contributed to Harris and Klebold feeling like social outcasts. A post-massacre investigation by the Washington Post concluded that bullying at Columbine was "rampant and unchecked," due to the "cult of the athlete" that dominated the school climate. According to the report, school authorities permitted favored athletes—the nicknamed "steroid poster boys" who wore white caps to set themselves apart—to get away with physical, verbal and sexual harassment incidents without significant punishment."
James Durfee March 08, 2012 at 02:57 AM
From the Institute of Marital Healing: Boys who do not play sports often experience significant peer rejection and bullying in a culture that places excessive emphasis upon athletic success as a sign of true masculinity. Such boys can develop a school phobia. They often have strong feelings of loneliness and sadness, few male friends, weak male confidence and resentment toward males who were insensitive to them. These boys can develop same sex attractions in an unconscious attempt to gain the male acceptance that was missing in their male peer relationships. These males benefit from special attention from their parents, especially their fathers. A challenge here is that fathers tend to be confident bonding with their sons primarily through athletic activities. Many fathers often have difficulty knowing how to be close to their sons who do not show an interest in sports. A common error fathers make with sons who lack eye hand coordination is to attempt to force them to play sports. Many boys simply lack the ability to learn the skills needed for baseball, basketball, soccer or football. Fathers can bond with such sons in a number of ways including hiking, fishing, hunting, playing chess, and walking. They can also identify and discuss topics of interest to their sons. In addition, these boys also benefit from their fathers helping them to grow in an awareness of their special God-given gifts that is essential in building male confidence.
Tony Silva March 08, 2012 at 03:36 AM
Brian. Get a job! Everyone knows it is you so just put your real name and move on to Rehoboth.
Rumford Resident March 08, 2012 at 12:08 PM
Excellent points James and Arthur.... I hope this is enough 'support' to show you were trying to provide a perspective to the sports discussion that had not been heard thus far.... Classic liberal feedback from Mr Amore where they are always the smartest ones in the room and our opinions are shot down. No one said there isn't a value to sports, but it is not nirvana.... Mr Amore probably didn't see Mr Durfee's analysis because he was at a meeting of the 'working Families or RI' getting marching orders from Val Lawson and Faria and Moura We have asbestos issues, leaking roofs and other safety issues in the schools but we bring up SPORTS! Typical distraction from the real issues from people like DaSilva who are at the root of the deficits!
Gregg Amore March 10, 2012 at 02:25 AM
I have seen Mr. Durfee's comments and I have read the Washington Post piece and the Penn State study. I appreciate Mr. Durfee drawing my attention to that information. According to the Wash. Post, about 8 "athletes", including two criminals who also happened to be athletes wreaked havoc on that campus. School Administrators and staff were asleep at the wheel but I don't think this instance proves the assertion that school sports divide a school and that student athletes are somehow more apt to bully than others. That was and is the point I was addressing. The Penn State study points to a high percentage of teen bullies ending up in the criminal justice system at some point. That doesn't match up with the numbers that support school sports as a way to keep students out of the criminal justice system. I still see no evidence that student athletes bully any more or less than any other teens. As to being the smartest person in the room, I find that is true only when I am alone. As far as a classic liberal response...I don't know what that is but I'm sure this will be considered one. I was addressing what I thought was an unfair statement in regard to student athletes and bullying, nothing more and nothing else. I try to remain civil and avoid personal attacks....I guess that is a classic liberal response as well. Val Lawson didn't tell me to say anything else so I guess I'll go. Don't want to be late for the RI Communist Party meeting.
Rumford Resident March 10, 2012 at 04:08 AM
Should we bring up the recent Andover High School incident of last year. Google high school sports hazing and receive 1.3 million hits. It is a generalization, but the original point was just that. That school sports is not an answer to every problem. As for being the smartest person in the room, I'm sure you do feel that way. I think Mr OKeefe put it best as to that type of attitude leading to a less than stellar graduation rate in the city. Make sure you say hello to Governor Chafee at the Communist Party meeting. I'm sure he will be there. Another fine example of how the unions funded another hack. Your investment is paying off there as well..... I'm sure the subject of Binding Arbitration will be discussed at that meeting (or as Val Lawson calls it Bind'in Arbitration) Just when you thought the unions learned their lesson, they bring that topic back to the forefront.....Another example of how it is 'always about the kids'......Yeah right....
Gregg Amore March 10, 2012 at 04:51 PM
Thank you for acknowleding that generalizations are dangerous and despite what you continue to write, I never said school sports is the answer to every problem. I actually agreed with you that we have much bigger fish to fry. Mr. OKeefe was absolutely out of his league when he made that comment as you are now. By the way, the man he was addressing taught in a school system that has a 96% graduation rate....but that does not matter because Mr. OKeefe made an inappropriate connection just as you have done. Barrington graduation rate 98%, Shea High School 58%....and that reflects the quality of the teachers? Switch the teachers and the graduation rates remain the same. Graduation rates are based on many factors outside the teachers' control including attendance rates, poverty levels, intinerant student populations, home environment of the student, as well as the quality of the education they get. On this subject I feel as though I am more informed (not smarter) than you. It must be a great gift to be clairvoyant and all knowing since you're sure you know how I feel...amazing gift. I will have to check with Val Lawson to see if I can continue to debate this issue. Or maybe I should ask you...you seem to know all these things...What would Val say? Hazing, by the way, is not limited to athletics...it has been used in frats, military, bands, Princeton Skull and Bones...etc.
Arthur Dolloff March 10, 2012 at 08:59 PM
And this should cost the taxpayers more money ???? WHY ???
Arthur Dolloff March 10, 2012 at 09:20 PM
Gregg, My feelings are that if teachers are taking out of their own pockets to provide necessities for the student’s daily educational needs, the issue raised by sports is surely just a smoke screen to divert attention and action from much more serious problems. Hell even the orchestra played while the Titanic was sinking. And that was caused in part by the vanities’ of the powerful persons in control. You can challenge any stated position and there are always of coloring the light that shines on the subject. BUT THE FACTS DO NOT CHANGE. We need to tackle much bigger problems in EP and wasting public interest with lesser problems is a waste of time and money in itself. According to a report in the “Reporter” and some simplistic reasoning and math, the cost per student for the middle school sports comes in around $265.00 yearly. I paid $200.00 per month for one child to participate in the sport of their choice and did it on a real thin budget. I guess the answer may become ‘pay to play’ to keep all sides happy.
Arthur Dolloff March 10, 2012 at 09:38 PM
Retention rates, Graduation rates, GPA's, Test scores, all mean little if the system is so broke that it cannot run. Gregg has some very good points that are very true; however I think we should consider fixing what is most important to keeping the system healthy. WE ARE BLEEDIND MONEY PROFUSELY. Then we can fix the issues that make the system work better and attain higher standards. You can't rebuild a house until you put out the fire!!! The hot button talk and comparisons to other systems do not change the facts, and if we do not stop the losses, there will be nothing left to build on. As I have said before this is going to hurt, there is no easy way out, but the sooner we start and challenge the system fix the problems the sooner we can move on to the rebuilding toe opportunities the city has to offer.
b1 March 11, 2012 at 03:16 AM
Fead???? How about Fed.
JJD March 11, 2012 at 03:45 AM
Yeah, Arthur, I don't understand why we would want to pay for this program for our children in East Providence, why would we want to invest in the kids? This city is turning into a real life version of the Simpson's episode 'Marge vs. Singles, Seniors, Childless Couples and Teens, and Gays'. Arthur, you obviously have signed up for SSCCATAGAPP.
JJD March 11, 2012 at 03:49 AM
Really, because I used to be an administrator on a message board where we had over 100 posts go missing over a week. They were not deleted, but for whatever reason they did not show to the public. It turned out it was an issue with a server update the the web-hosting company had done. Remember Hanlon's Razor "Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity"
Gregg Amore March 11, 2012 at 04:21 AM
Mr. Dolloff, We agree that fixing the foundation is essential. There is no easy way out and all the stakeholders will have to make sacrafices. Middle school sports may be one of those sacrafices. We need to fundamentally change the way we fund public education in this country so that the burden is not always on the property owner. In districts like EP, the homeowner's capacity to pay has been stretched to the limit.
Arthur Dolloff March 14, 2012 at 01:35 AM
To put a light on the original comment that sports stifles bullying, the local recent news releases show that some of the most obnoxious behavior is shown at local hockey and basketball games. These morons have set an example for the youth attending these games that will take years of constabulary contact to dull their influence, and who will bear that cost????
Rumford Resident March 15, 2012 at 11:03 AM
I'll provide various thoughts on the current state of public education in a series of posts. I will begin with a quote from the late Steve Jobs. Jobs also criticized America's education system, saying it was "crippled by union work rules," noted Isaacson. "Until the teachers' unions were broken, there was almost no hope for education reform." Jobs proposed allowing principals to hire and fire teachers based on merit, that schools stay open until 6 p.m. and that they be open 11 months a year. So the question becomes, should we listen to a local shill for the unions, or the main who created the largest private sector company in the history of the US. I'll stand with the founder of Apple...
JJD March 15, 2012 at 03:01 PM
You stand with Jobs and I'll stand with the professionals. Jobs was an innovator of what he knew, which was technology, and honestly, he did more of the marketing and aesthetic design as an 'art' than the actual technological guts, which he relied on Woz and later other engineers for. Jobs has no background in education whatsoever, so I take his opinion only as seriously as the next person. In fact, not only am I more apt to listen to the experts over him, I'm more apt to listen to local residents over him, when it comes to education. I think we forget that these unions are not like private sector unions, they can't strike (and if they try, they are ordered back to work in a day or two by a judge). They have very little actual leverage, yet they are scapegoated like they control everything, because they may have supported a candidate that ended up winning election. Let's ignore how many candidates we've had that won without union support. Remember there's two sides to every contract, the employee side and the management side, if I as a resident (shareholder essentially) don't like the contract, I blame my management team, not the employee.
Rumford Resident March 17, 2012 at 07:27 AM
JJD You stand with 'the professionals' of the NEA You stand with Val Lawson, Louis Rainone, Bob Walsh, and the flacks Moura and Faria, and Vinhateiro..... The NEA and the AFT have made US public education what it is today... I for one would be willing to take the opinion of an outsider who hires from what public education has produced in the past 40 years.... You most likely voted for Kleyla and Rossi..... I for one would vote for Steve Jobs.....
S March 17, 2012 at 01:11 PM
Abigail Crocker I agree people need to keep it civil however you need to report the news not your one sided view. you allow the union people to say and do what ever they want and all you say is keep it civil--- do you have the union deciding what can stay and what has to go. Is Chrissy Rossi and John Faria and Pauly poo Moura along with the close friendship team of Coogan and Rogers doing your censoring for you. Money says this post will not last lets just see what Abagail will do or say.
JJD March 17, 2012 at 04:25 PM
Firstly, I stand with the educational professionals, not their bargaining unit. Moura and Faria aren't part of the NEA, neither are Kleyla and Rossi. I couldn't have voted for "Kleyla and Rossi" because they are in two different wards, at best I can vote for one of them. Underfunding at the federal level made education what it is today, overuse of IEPs as a reactionary method of helping struggling students made some of the problems today. In RI, funding education by the regressive property tax caused part of this problem. You want to take what one person thinks based on the people he hired out in California as gospel, that's your choice. Jobs denied the paternity of his first child and let her live off of welfare while he raked in millions of dollars, so you can feel free to stand with him if you like.
Arthur Dolloff March 17, 2012 at 08:18 PM
JJD The Simpsons, surely you are more mature that that show !!!!
Kevin Oliver March 23, 2012 at 07:55 PM
I dont understand the hostility towards Abigail. She is simply saying to keep it civil. She doesnt want people alleging crimes, she doesnt want slander. She figues as adults we can have normal convesations without resorting to such childish things. These things wouldnt be allowed anywhere else either. It\f you wote a letter to the N.Y. Post do you think they would allow it?
S April 05, 2012 at 02:38 AM
Roberto Dasliva what a moron


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