When I think of a “bully,” I think of that classic mean kid on the school yard, or the more contemporary version of an online teen harassing their peers virtually. I may be naive in my thinking, but I would love to believe that bullying is something that the aggressor grows out of. I want to hold onto hope that those bad seeds will emerge from their angst for the better and stop harassing their fellow human beings. But some just don’t grow out of that bully stage — for them it’s not a temporary stage but a way of life.
One who never learned their lesson is, reportedly, Miami Dolphins player Richie Incognito. On Monday Incognito’s teammate Jonathan Martin took a leave of absence from his team, apparently due to being bullied by Incognito. But the Miami Dolphins are on the defensive; it’s part of the game, right?
“Our primary concern for Jonathan is his overall health and well-being,” part of the statement read. “As an organization, we take any accusations of player misconduct seriously. The notion of bullying is based on speculation and has not been presented to us as a concern from Jonathan or anyone else internally. The reports that the NFLPA is investigating our players are inaccurate. Additionally, the NFL offered its assistance during this time, which we appreciated and gladly accepted. We will continue to make Jonathan’s health and well-being a focus as we do with all of our players.”
Jonathan Martin was a classics major at Stanford and both his parents graduated from Harvard, proving that even a Stanford grad can be a victim of bullying. Richie Incognito, his teammate, is known for his aggression and, as the New York Times states, a “reputation for dirty play and a history of rough behavior.” He reportedly hazed and harassed Martin to such an extent that he felt forced to leave his job. Not only did Incognito reportedly call Martin by the name, “Big Weirdo,” but he would reportedly leave threatening and even racist voice mail messages.
Aren’t these grown men? Extremely successful grown men? What is to be gained by bullying a co-worker, or in this case a teammate? And the whole idea that they were on the SAME team is very upsetting. We teach our children to be supportive of their teammates and that you are all working towards a common goal. But instances like this completely goes against the lessons we teach our kids: to not bully others, to treat people how you would like to be treated, and that a team works together. I mentioned that I was a bit naive in my hope that bullies would grow out of their bullying, but I am not naive in the behavior of professional athletes. There are instances of domestic abuse, drug abuse, alcoholism, and so many more negative lifestyle choices that seem to run rampant amongst players who are given too much money, have too much ego, and sometimes have too much time on their hands.
Don’t you think there should be stronger rules of conduct for professional athletes where instances of hazing, harassment, and bullying are not to be tolerated? Should the “don’t be a bully” message go beyond the school-aged and to adults as well?
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