The Miami Dolphins have been in the news these past two weeks, and not for the good. They are the subject of a major firestorm involving bullying. But, what is more bizarre is how the team is responding to it. There does not seem to be much support for Jonathan Martin, who left the team two weeks ago alleging his fellow teammate Richie Incognito harassed him and threatened to kill him and his family. It seems as if Martin should expect to be harassed, because according to some, it is part of the culture of football.
Johnathon Martin, the rookie offensive tackle for the Miami Dolphins, left the team in late October after a practice, and did not return. A few days later, it was then reported he left the team for “emotional reasons,” and that it was due to the increased harassment from Incognito. Martin has yet to return to the team and is currently at a hospital to treat his mental health.
The next few days after this came out is what baffles me. Incognito made an appearance on television and stated that it was the normal culture to harass teammates. Former Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka said that it was the way of the game, to initiate rookies into the team by making fun of them and giving them a hard time. And even the Miami Dolphins organization stepped back from supporting Martin, saying that he did not come forward to them to let them know he was being harassed.
It seems that no one was speaking up for Martin, just because he is a football player. It seems that if you are a strong athlete that plays a physical sport, you should be able to handle any emotional hits. But, that is the problem. Just because someone is a football player, that doesn’t mean they do not have feelings. Deep down, we all have feelings and sometimes, the words and actions of others can be tough to bear.
But I am just appalled that Martin’s fellow teammates and other football analysts want to bash on Martin. No matter how they word it, it is still bullying. According to the Workplace Bullying Institute, bullying is defined as this:
“repeated,health-harming mistreatment of one or more persons (the targets) by one or more perpetrators that takes one or more of the following forms: verbal abuse, offensive conduct/behaviors (including nonverbal) which are threatening, humiliating, or intimidating, and work interference — sabotage — which prevents work from getting done.”
Looking at this definition, this would fit how Martin was being treated. If Martin felt this way, maybe it is time to re-think the difference between “messing around” and bullying. We no longer live in a time where it’s okay to pick on someone just because they are different. The Miami Dolphins and the National Football League has to start realizing that what was done in the past needs to be left in the past. Teammates should just learn how to work together as a team, not tear each other apart.
By: Renayle Fink