The Case for a New Avenger

S.H.I.E.L.D. might have missed assembling team members from India, but it is never too late to correct an oversight. Imagine our larger-than-life superhero, Rajinikanth, partnering with other Avengers in a combined mission to save the planet from dangerous predators with bad intentions. Some aliens, some familiar ones! Yes, India is far from America, and the distance seems to have increased during the pandemic, but Rajinikanth could give some worthy company to Iron Man and perhaps teach him a trick or two, too, through holographic interfaces and augmented reality. Who knows, he could also kill all the mutants of Coronaviruses in this quest!

I wish to present some facts now to give you a background of my strategic human resource and leadership plan for S.H.I.E.L.D. India has one of the largest numbers of gig workers in the world. As per a March 2021 report by consulting firm Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, the gig economy in India is expected to soar to 90 million in approximately a decade from now. Choose any vocation here and you will be spoilt for choices. Almost everyone is an expert on politics, economics, socio-cultural issues, fashion, sports, career, marriage, children, nature, animals, traffic, the dos, and don’ts … the list is endless. People can even advice others on how they should lead their lives. It’s affection, silly!

War for talent? Clearly, recruiters have not been able to explore the depth of this vast pool. To reiterate, India is a land bubbling with high potentials. Now let us go back to the topic of superpowers. There is plan B too. Rajinikanth could have a serious competition in a plain-looking community here. S.H.I.E.L.D. could consider appointing some members from this fraternity too.

You are rolling your eyes? Why? Hear me out. Presenting to you the case of beholders of the mighty pen (over a sword or a gun), and the upholders of fine speech. Their words hit no less than the missiles unleashed by Israel over the Gaza strip. Let me walk you through the innate gifts of a less publicized community with an immensely amoeba-like (plasma membrane) flexibility.

The teachers.

The extremely sturdy ones can stand the whole day, operate (teach) without a table and a chair, or, the basic infrastructure, and sometimes work even at low or no salaries for months. The strengths, struggles and coping mechanism of the privileged ones out of this lot are embedded in different realms. More on that, later! You will be astonished to learn how many hats teachers can don at the same time. They juggle between being a mentor, coach, counsellor, Devil’s advocate, friend, philosopher, or guide. Interestingly, even their DNA personifies versatility. Over the years, the mutations in their genetic material have helped them learn how to make milestones of the stones thrown at them by students unhappy with their marks, and parents unhappy with the teachers for giving those marks! Talk about heightened senses, their eyes can easily observe and sense the intention behind each greeting, smile and calls to the office. They are like Sharma ji ka beta/beti’, always expected to excel at everything and set an ideal example for the others to emulate.

Here, I would take a detour and ask you to recall the violinists who continued to play music for as long as they were alive, just to calm the passengers on the sinking Titanic ship. On similar lines, teachers continued to teach while the pandemic unleashed havoc around the world. The unlearning of years of classroom teaching was replaced by the immediate need to adopt new technological tools and re-learn the art of virtual teaching. The new and changed landscape was no less than the one post Thanos snapping his finger.

Aren’t convinced yet? Go to the polling booths and follow the polio immunization drives, you will know what I mean.

Now the final hook. Except for some teachers working with elite institutions, the rest won’t even charge much for their services. You can simply smile, appreciate their work, show some respect, and boy, see how they melt! Just watch how it lights up their faces. They are so motivated, especially on September 5 every year in India, that even Abraham Maslow bows to them from time to time from his grave. Had told you about their genetic sequencing earlier, remember? I do hope I have presented their (our) case well, S.H.I.E.L.D. Hopefully, you will have a relook at your current team now.

On a sidenote, can I be a contender too? Just saying. I can take it up as a gig assignment during the semester breaks. Imagine the newest Avenger on the block and that too a female from India! It will further boost the diversity and inclusion factors for you. If you can give equitable salary and perks, you could even find yourself on the pages of Harvard cases.

You might want to provide supplements of Vitamin T(eacher) to your team if Rajinikanth’s diary of appointments is full. Professor Hulk would not mind some more erudite company. In return, I vow to start quoting your example in my classes as a great employer brand with an excellent employee value proposition. Who knows, I might even write a research article. Told you, pen and words are the weapons here. Think about it. What say? Are you game?

P.S. I have recently bought a telescope to keep an eye on the stars and planets too. Taking my possible future role tad too seriously, eh?

What are different types of aggressions

Researchers identify two types of aggression related to sports: instrumental aggression and hostile aggression.What is instrumental aggression?By nature, certain sports (such as football, ice hockey, etc.) have higher levels of contact between players. Thus, they inevitably include more aggression. But such violence is often within the bounds of the game. You often need to play with a certain measure of physical aggressiveness in order to win. That’s instrumental aggression.Hostile aggression, on the other hand, is violence that goes beyond the scope of the sport. Being hostile refers to “impulsive, angry aggression intended to hurt someone who has in some way provoked an individual” (Russell, 2008). One famous example of hostile aggression in sport is a 2006 World Cup football (soccer here in the U.S.) match. After being insulted by Italian athlete Marco Materazzi in the middle of the game, French player Zinedine Zidane delivered a serious headbutt to his chest, which sent him flying to the ground. Such action was in no way necessary to the game itself; it was simply a way to retaliate against the athlete. Zidane wanted to hurt his provoker as badly as possible.Hostile Aggression Among Teen AthletesIn discussing the problem of aggression, most experts are talking about the concept of hostile – not instrumental – aggression.In surveying 800 adolescent athletes playing 10 different sports all across the U.S., Shields (2005) found that 13% of students have tried to deliberately hurt an opponent at least once during a game. Seventeen percent have said something mean to an opponent. And almost 40% have tried to “get back” at another player.

Heroes Modeling Bad Behavior

Increased media attention on pro-athletes has revealed shocking displays of violence both on and off the sports field. This has an influence on young fans, who often admire and glamorize such athletes. One researcher (Smith, 1983) asked adolescent hockey players who their favorite National Hockey League (NHL) player was. He found that there was a positive correlation between skaters whose NHL hero was aggressive and the young athlete’s own play.

Aggressive Parents

But aggressive behavior isn’t only seen on TV. Often, it’s closer to home. Certain parents could be violent and aggressive with their children at home, as well as on the sports field. (One Minnesota survey found that 17% of adolescent athletes said that an adult had hit, kicked, and slapped them while participating in sports.) Experiencing such violent behavior has a mimicking effect, says researchers. See the case of Thomas Junta and Michael Costin in 2000, and what happened to their kids thereafter.

Showing Loyalty or Seeking Revenge

Moral reasoning theory suggests that some teens think aggressive behavior is not just okay, but even the right thing to do in certain circumstances. “Aggressive behavior is often…justified by players to demonstrate loyalty to teammates, and especially injured teammates, by seeking revenge particularly in competitive, body-checking leagues,” says Cusimano (2016). Hurtful insults, mean taunts, and even stares can provoke certain players, who will then retaliate by become more aggressive (Gordon Russell, 2008). Sports psychologists note that not all athletes respond to the same provocation in the same way. Personality differences, temperament, and even regional hometown (!) change the way athletes will respond to a hurtful remark. For example, Type-A teens will be more likely to get angry when they’re insulted.

Getting Too Hot

Sounds crazy, but it really is true: environmental factors like heat leads to aggression. Science even proves it. Research on weather and crime shows that acts of violence happen most during the summer. In the same vein, getting hot during a sports game can make an athlete more physically aggressive. In analyzing more than 2,300 National Football League games and matching them up with the temperatures on each day, researchers found that the hotter it was, the more aggressively teams played. They determined this conclusion based on comparing temperatures to the number of aggressive penalties teams accrued. Even when the temperature is fairly mild, though (or even cold, as in ice hockey) your teen athlete could be getting warm by all the physical activity they’re doing—running, throwing a ball, tackling, etc.—not to mention all the layers they’re wearing and the gear they’re carrying.

Biological factors

Certain teens may simply be more aggressive, naturally. Studies have shown, for example, that the level of testosterone in male athletes impacts their aggressive level. (Simpson, 2001). In one experiment, male participants with both high and low testosterone levels were given escalating shocks. The males with high hormone levels responded with more aggression than the others.  Changes in hormone levels can likewise increase or reduce aggression. During puberty, for example, which is when testosterone levels generally increase, competitive aggression increases as well.

Crowd Incitement

Many times, parents, coaches and fans encourage aggression from the sidelines. After analyzing parents’ remarks at more than 40 adolescent sports games, Meân and Kassing (2008) found that many parents and sports officials encourage a “war-like” aggression on the sports field. This winning-at-all-costs mentality (as evidenced by statements like ‘kill him!’, ‘trip him,’ “Do what you gotta do,’ let ‘em have it,”) could be trickling down to their children. These adolescents are getting the message that because it’s so important to win, playing aggressively is okay. To them, the sport transforms from “play” to “war” – because that’s what they’re hearing from the crowd.

Living Up to Expectations

They’re nervous about performing well. About 13% of parents admit they’ve angrily criticized their child’s sport performance after a game. (Shields, 2005). Oftentimes, sports have become so important to the parent, and the parent has such high expectations for performance and the winning of the game, that many children are probably “playing much more aggressively than they would if their main objective was to hang out with their friends and have fun.” Research shows that parents underestimate the pressure they place on their young athletes to succeed.

Changing the Culture: Sportsmanship First

According to a Monitoring the Future survey, 71% of adolescent boys and 68% of adolescent girls participate in school sports. With so many teen athletes playing sports, it’s important to understand the factors that can lead to hostile aggression and take any steps one can to reduce it.

For parents, this could mean being mindful of their interactions with their children. Parents who are calm and try their best to reduce angry outbursts (not just at sports games, but also at home) are more likely to produce children who will act similarly. Likewise, parents can do their best in maintaining a low-stress approach to sports so as not to pressure their young athletes. In regards to media exposure, parents can also try to limit how much violence their teens are exposed to by monitoring their TV and media consumption.

Though some factors linking to aggression (such as personality or hormone levels) are out of one’s control, youth sports officials can try to create an atmosphere where hurtful taunts, songs and chants are discouraged, and positive sportsmanship is encouraged. This might limit the number of provocations in the game and thus the number of fights between athletes. In the same vein, angry spectator violence – which is shown to have a mimicking effect on adolescents – should have appropriate consequences.

‘No Man is an Island’ by John Donne.

Have you ever been ostracized by your peer group or have you ostracized someone? The world we are living doesn’t want a person to be different from them and so for various reasons such individuals are isolated. But no matter how different an individual may be, he is still a part of the bigger community, the human kind. Dealing with this theme is John Donne’s poem ‘No Man is an Island.’ 

 No man is an island, entire of itself;

 every man is a piece of the continent, 

 a part of the main. 

We shouldn’t think of ourselves as belonging to no community and we should also not label someone as belonging to no community. Though we have different labels identifying based on our gender, nationality, and race, we all live on the same earth. We look at the same sky and breathe the same air. 

If a clod be washed away by the sea,

Europe is the less, 

as well as if a promontory were, 

as well as if a manor of thy friend’s

or of thine own were. 

John Donne emphasizes the importance of every individual on the earth. When a clod is washed away by the sea, we may not feel concerned much. Even the clod is as important as a promontory.  This comparison is used to convey the message that even the most insignificant individual is as important as our friend. We should love and respect every other individual just as we love and respect our closed ones.    

Any man’s death diminishes me, 

because I am involved in mankind;

and therefore never send to know 

for whom the bell tolls;

it tolls for thee.

Donne concludes the poem with an appeal to universal love and companionship. Even a stranger’s death would make the poet sad because the stranger belongs to humankind. When the church bell tolls announcing the death of the stranger, it is not only for their acquaintances but also for us. We needn’t know the person personally to share their sorrow. 

Today, we have so much going on in our earth. People are suffering and dying because of the pandemic and war all over the world. It is only natural for us to feel sad when we watch such news. Due to the pandemic, many are quarantined and isolated. While they fight the virus, they have to fight loneliness too. So, even if we can’t help them physically, we should at least support them emotionally by sending prayers, kind words and positive thoughts. Thus, this poem is apt even after many centuries.