A football coach in the US has been fired after punishing a child for bullying one of his teammates.
The former head coach of a Durham Middlefield Football team, said he wanted the kids to know that bullying would not be tolerated.
Todd Kennedy said he had first talked to the entire team about bullying, but when he heard of its occurrence again, he addressed the alleged bully in front of the team last week. The boy, however, denied the allegations, but Kennedy had him run a few laps around the field. Kennedy said he praised the boy afterwards for running the laps without complaining.
Kennedy said the league’s board was not happy with the way he handled the situation.
“[One of the board members] said why did you feel that you were qualified to handle this bullying incident? I’m like because I’m a father,” said Kennedy.
He got suspended the following morning, and then fired on Monday.
According to him, the board voted unanimously that he could no longer continue as the team’s coach.
“You start questioning yourself, absolutely,” said Kennedy.
Kennedy has two sons in the team.
He said if one of his own kids was bullying another, he’d have no problem with another coach handling it the way he did. He also feels badly that he wasn’t able to explain what happened to his team.
“They never heard from me, so now you’ve got these children that I’ve been coaching since August and all of a sudden their coach just disappears,” Kennedy said.
The team is made up of children from Grade 4 to 6.
Kennedy’s two sons no longer play on the team, and they aren’t the only ones. Shannon Riso’s son is also off the team, as she believes the board was wrong to fire Kennedy.
“Bullying is okay – that’s the message I got,” said Riso. “That’s why my son is not going to play for them. I want him to be around better role models than that.”
Kennedy says he was never trained on how to handle bullying as a coach, so he handled it the best way he could. Now he feels like he’s being treated unfairly because of it.
“What I’m going to miss the most is seeing what we would have done this year, seeing if we would have gotten to the championship game,” said Kennedy.