My favorite sport is baseball and never been much of a football fan. Growing up in Wisconsin, three things ruled: beer, religion, and the Green Bay Packers. As per the culture and building community, I engaged in the weekly game day festivities. Moving to California, my exposure to football became limited and my interest faded. Recently, the story of Miami Dolphins player Richie Incognito harassing his fellow teammate Jonathan Martin disgusted and saddened me.
When is the glorifying culture of bullying in America going to stop?
Mr. Incognito harassed Martin with racial slurs, wanted to harm his family including raping his sister and a death threat. Understandably, Martin left his team and was concerned for his safety in an environment that rewards negative conduct. Unfortunately, he’s being victimized again by players throughout the league. According to USA TODAY, Giants safety Antrel Rolle said “Jonathan Martin is a 6’5 320 pound dude…I think he should be able to stand up for himself.” It doesn’t matter how big or small a person is, there is no place in society for this behavior.
Richie Incognito’s yearly salary is a disturbing $4 million according to spotrac and he’s no stranger to erratic mood swings. In fact, our culture seems to embrace and reward “winners” who will do whatever it takes to “win” no matter the cost to humanity. A NEW YORK POST article by Gary Buiso lists Incognito’s history including: voted NFL’S dirtiest player, dysfunctional family, suspended from college football, punching holes in walls, brawls, a league-high of seven personal fouls as a Rams player, and the list goes on and on and on…
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary, defines incognito as “with your true identity kept secret (as by using a different name or a disguise)” or “with one’s identity concealed.” Richie Incognito is nothing like this namesake today. In fact, I wonder how he feels with the heighten media attention? Could the bully be experiencing how if feels to be bullied?
In order to survive Junior High to High School, I was bullied and bullied back. It was a survival mode of thinking in order to make it through the day. One distinct memory was transformative in terms of building the framework for my adult life. One day after school, I was walking with a group of “kids” including one who was an African American. Growing up in central Wisconsin, diversity was very hard to come by. A “jock” (for lack of better terms) started bullying my minority friend with racial slurs and taunting. I stepped in, yelled back, and stood firm. As a result, the jock backed off and went on his way. Recently, I found out that individual had committed suicide a few years back.
Overall, bullying is usually a sign of serious and underlining issues that haven’t been resolved. Unfortunately, these dysfunctional creatures hunt for persons they consider to be “weak” and create a gang like culture breeding and celebrating this sick “sport.” Jonathan Martin is a strong and brave man. He stood up and said that this type of behavior is unacceptable. The media and NFL should be using him as a positive role model. It took time to discover quality individuals who by example taught me the difference between right and wrong. Let’s hope the NFL doesn’t squander this opportunity by showing the world that bullying has no place in sports and beyond.