Locker Room Culture: The Line.

Published: Nov 08, 2013 12:59pm EST
By JLangley4, Sports Writer for Konsume Sports

Please Note: This article was updated Nov 08, 2013 @ 12:59pm EST

 

In case you haven't noticed, the story that has stolen the headlines in the NFL is the bullying scandal in Miami. Not the play on the field, not the stellar season Peyton Manning is having, not even Tim Tebow blowing his nose is overtaking this headline.

Don't get it twisted, though, this is a serious issue that is worth discussion and further examination. It is tough to speak on this subject, as the full details are still hidden, which, is a bit surprising. What we do know is that Richie Incognito left a racial slur filled voicemail to Jonathan Martin, along with many more texts. The story doesn't end there, though, and further details will come out as we progress through this scandal piece by piece.

Don't be foolish enough to believe Incognito acted alone. If this were the case, it would be tough to imagine Martin leaving the team, and not confronting him alone. This is a team issue. Leadership didn't step in, and they have made it clear that they stand by Incognito more than they do Martin.

Martin has been called "soft" and "mentally weak" by many who believe the culture of the NFL locker room is a different place, and Martin should have manned up and attacked Incognito if the issues were bothering him. But, what if the circumstances were different? What if Martin had suffered a mental breakdown due to other circumstances? Would he be mentally weak then? Would he not have the right to leave then? The consensus on that would be no, he is not mentally weak.

The brain is a tender organ. It can break just as any other organ can. Mentally, anyone can be broken given certain circumstances. Rookie hazing is one thing, but Martin was into his second year, so the hazing should have ended, if this were normal hazing. The jokes and insults didn't end after one season; they continued into his second season, and it was mercilous. The things said to Martin are not as common as many would like to say. This got personal.

As a former football player, I will not claim to have played at a high level. I was a high school player who had chances to play at the next level, but never pursued that. Life was about more than the game of football. But, I can tell you, the locker room atmosphere was different than normal life. Jokes are made. Making fun of each other is a normal circumstance in any locker room. But there is a line you do not cross, plain and simple.

It is one thing to call someone a "big weirdo" and other silly names, but it is another thing to send racially ladened voicemails, texts, and other forms of communication to anyone.

That, in itself, is disturbing. The fact that a team would honor anyone as an "honorary black man." Where is the self pride? Did Martin Luther King and Malcolm X not fight for this word to be disbanded no more than 50 years ago? And now, it is a privilege to throw this insulting word around like it is a compliment? There is something wrong there, very wrong.

The locker room is a sacred place. Martin could have handled this better, but no one can speak for him. He acted as he felt he should, and no one can blame him until they have been put into his position. To call a player weak and soft mentally, is an insult, and should not be used until every detail comes out, and we can make a full judgment on the matter at hand.

There is a line, and the Dolphins crossed it. You shouldn't have to be told not to cross certain boundaries, that should be a given. I can honestly say I have never crossed these lines, and I never will. There is a respect matter at hand here, and some people don't seem to have it. People want bullying to stop in America, but everyone wants their kids to "stand up for themselves" and "throw punches."

What are we, 15 years old? Not everyone solves their issues with violence. In fact, that is the completely wrong way to handle issues. Is time in jail, a dent on the personal record worth the satisfaction of shutting one person up? And if it wasn't just Incognito, does Martin punch everyone involved? What does it solve? It gives satisfaction for a short amount of time, but doesn't solve the issue that currently resides in American ideology.

Think long and hard before labeling Martin soft and weak. Who knows how you'd handle a situation like this.


 

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JLangley4
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