It’s hard to come out of your shell when you’re a quiet high school student. Not many kids speak up when someone gets picked on or a friend gets shot down or made fun of. There is a time and a place for innocent joking, but sometimes it can be taken too far. Bonds between friends are extremely important and should go beyond the understandings and experiences you share with them. If someone is being hurt or abused you have the responsibility to stick up for them.
I first realized the bond of friendship while watching the NBA Playoffs a few years ago. Early on in the game while playing the Detroit Pistons, Rasheed Wallace was called for a flagrant foul on Zydrunas Ilgauskas. Instead of coming to the aid of their team mate, everyone on the Cavaliers roster sat back and did nothing as their team mate’s head dripped blood onto the floor. I watched in awe as Ilgauskas was taken to the locker room for stitches without so much as one person coming to his defense. I’m not saying a fight should have broken out between the two teams; I just would have liked to see someone calm Rasheed down or confront him. To me taking a hit is better than backing down for something you believe in.
Soon after this little incident I had the opportunity to apply this lesson as guidance in my own life. My soccer team, myself included, had just got back to our hotel after a long day of matches. I was just on my way down to the pool when I saw one of my team mates being taunted by a couple players from an international team we had played earlier. When I approached my friend and the 2 other kids I realized that something wasn’t right. They had cornered him in the hallway and where openly mocking him for being Jewish. He was trying not to let it bother him and just walk away but they pushed him back, which is right about the time that I walked in. Both of us just tried to get them to walk away from the situation. One of them quickly realized that I wasn’t kidding when I told them to back off and started walking down the hall. His friend even told him to leave us alone but instead of walking away he decided to push my friend hard into the wall. I quickly got in between them to settle the altercation. He finally realized it wasn’t worth it and backed off. It felt good when my friend thanked me as we walked down the hall. Protecting a friend takes a lot of courage but it is always the right thing to do, this I believe.