The last several days have seen a lot of media attention on a situation that’s unfolding for the National Football League team, Miami Dolphins, regarding what is being called a bullying case. In my eyes, the situation being uncovered goes beyond bullying. It may very well be criminal. I understand that there’s the typical so-called hazing that happens when rookies join the team. In fact, retired player Jeremy Shockey discussed it in this article. I think for me, the main point is what he says at the end of the article, saying that if a player has to leave a team because of the so-called hazing, then the situation has “gone south.” It’s gone too far. If it’s gone too far, can it really be just bullying?
I know there’s people out there who seem to think this young man, Jonathan Martin, is just being a wimp; that he couldn’t hack it and he needs to get over it. That’s a load of bunk. Racial slurs and other threats have been something Martin has had to handle for nearly two years now. That’s far too long to be just hazing, particularly because this young man isn’t even a rookie anymore. The player in question, Richie Incognito, has a long history of misconduct. He’s been kicked off not one, but two college teams, including Nebraska in spring 2003 and Oregon in 2004. He also was convicted of misdemeanor assault in 2004.
He’s faced issues in the NFL also. When with the St. Louis Rams, he got into a fight with his coach and earned a reputation from other teams as being the dirtiest player. Since the story has broke, other current and retired NFL players have indicated a dislike of him and thinking he should be banned, not just suspended. This is all what’s in the media. There is plenty that will probably never make the media which leads me to believe it’s even worse than it sounds and it sounds really bad. This can’t be just hazing.
There is some discussion of why did Martin wait or why wasn’t anything else reported sooner, etc. Well, in a situation where you feel unsafe, you tend to not say anything in hopes that things will get better. Just ask any woman who’s been in a sexual harassment case or sexual assault case. When in fear, most tend to hush. This also leads me to believe that while Incognito is the main culprit, other Dolphins players failed their teammate. They even failed each other in not stepping up for this young man and helping him. Silence, or inaction is just as bad as the action itself. There’s another opinion piece I think that fits the bill on this element and you can read it here. Martin felt he had to leave the team in order to protect himself and to get himself mentally healthy again. That’s it right there… mentally healthy.
This situation, along with continually hearing about our young people having such issues with bullying, makes me ever so thankful that when I was growing up, I never had that issue. I often worried that I would be a victim of bullying because I wasn’t part of the in-crowd, I’m not even 5’ft tall and there could be lots of jokes and who knows at my expense. But all those days when I thought for sure someone would come along and ruin my day, it never happened. I did get a lot of jokes my way but fortunately God gave me a good sense of humor to tolerate it. I’m so thankful that I was never really challenged that way, that I had to find out if I needed to dig deep to get out of a situation where people were intentionally mean to me. I’m not sure how I would have handled it.
Bullying is so vicious. It wreaks havoc on a person’s mind so badly and then the emotions get involved and it’s difficult to climb out of that hole, or so I can imagine. Sometimes even a friend’s joke can hurt feelings so I try and imagine, for the sake of empathy, what it would be like if that same joke were said by someone I didn’t like or someone who didn’t like me and was going out of the way to hurt me. That would be difficult. Imagine having to put up with that for two years? So many of can’t handle being in a bad job with people we don’t like and it has nothing to do with bullying, so why are there people saying this young man is a wimp? That’s just a crock to me.
Thank God I haven’t had to deal with that type of emotional strain. I’m so glad that I’m sturdy enough now that if it were to happen, and yes adults can be bullied also, that I would like to think I could handle it if it were to happen. I’m grateful that I’ve had a pretty good life and have managed 32 years not having to worry about some jerk bullying me. It may seem small, but it’s a big deal, particularly when so many are becoming victims and so many young people are dying because of it.