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The dynamic of group punishment

Margaret writes,

"I don't get it, do you?", referring to the coach's boot camp tactics in
punishing the whole team for the untidiness of individuals.

I suspect that this is how high school coaches endeavor to produce modern
athletes of the caliber of Latrell Sprewell (a professional basketball
player who physically assaulted his coach), athletes who seem to lack a
basic understanding of concepts like dignity, respect, maturity, etc.

Sarcasm aside, the supposed notion behind this is approach is to foster
teamwork, but the logic is flawed, if you ask me. Enlisting the athletes as
cops and snitches to prevent misbehavior in the ranks likely produces the
opposite of the desired effect, i.e. instead of a sense of camaraderie and
teamwork, an atmosphere of divisiveness and peer abuse:

"In addition to being unfair, group consequences may turn the
group against the person blamed for causing the group to be
punished. Faced with the prospect of the group being punished for the
of one or a few, the "heavies" in the group may coerce an innocent
youth to step forward and claim the blame for whatever is amiss. This
constitutes peer abuse."


I suspect even the military is beginning to recognize the ineffectiveness
and counterproductivity of such lazy and senseless approaches to discipline.
For example, The Navy regs for operating brigs (that's military lingo for
prisons) says this: "Mass or group punishment for the offense of an
individual is strictly prohibited".


It may get a laugh in "Stripes" when Sargeant Hulka punishes the whole
platoon for Bill Murray's antics, but I would bet that more effective drill
instructors don't rely on this centuries-old behavior modification approach.

Group punishment impresses me as a holdover from the days when hazing,
caning, and public humiliation were considered acceptable school discipline

Maybe this coach doesn't know any better; it's easy to fall back on
old-fashioned habits where discipline is concerned. I think it would be a
good idea to have a polite and candid talk with this person about their
approach to teaching teamwork and cooperation and sportsmanship. Either you
or your daughter could have the conversation.

-----Original Message-----
From: margd@FLASH.NET [mailto:margd@FLASH.NET]
Sent: Friday, February 15, 2002 1:17 PM
To: ARN-L@listsrva.CUA.EDU
Subject: Re: ALEXANDER

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