Richie, in an Incognito pose

At the time of this writing, it’s the biggest story in the NFL: two Miami Dolphins offensive linemen, Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin, are off the team. Martin left saying he’d been bullied by Incognito, and Incognito was suspended after a series of text messages surfaced, and least one of which had him dropping the “N-Bomb” on Martin.

Here’s a small piece of what’s in the news:

J-Rocc

J-Rocc

I ran into a conversation between two friends of mine, Shane Taylor and J-Rocc, the host of the Sports Fix, and I’m summarizing it here:

J-Rocc

It seems like lots of people would rather have Richie Incognito playing than Jonathan Martin. The locker room is its own society – it’s like a bubble, isolated from society. But even in the locker room there’s a difference between pranks and damage. There’s a line there. And if we punish Jonathan Martin for “stooling out his teammate,” we send a message to kids that they can’t report bullying because they’d face social consequences.

Notorious Shane Taylor

Which is already a problem. Kids are being bullied and not reporting it, because they doubt it would do any good, and they think it might actually do harm. Now, some doubt whether Martin will work in the NFL again, because he reported.

Shane

It’s finally happened: the wussification of our nation has reached the NFL. How on earth does a 6’5″ 300+ lb monster O-lineman get bullied? They called you names & threatened you…? Do you know how many names I’ve been called in wrestling? Either from promoters, the boys, or the fans? You take all the things they throw at you, cook ’em up & serve it chilled! Success is the best revenge there is. [They picked on you for being gay?] Who cares? Football is filled w/gay players! Stop tip toeing around being gay! If it’s NOT a big deal, then STOP making it a big deal. Every gay athlete or entertainer that comes out gets an hour-long ESPN clip or Oprah interview… but we’re not talking about fighting – just the ability to solve problems without [having others] solve them for you. It’s a mindset, brother: HOW you get through your challenge is up to you, long as you get through!

And there’s the bottom line. We can’t teach kids that the solution is to run away. We want them to let others know when there’s a problem, so they can’t be punished for reporting. But we walk this fine line between letting them face life’s cruelty alone and letting them think we’ll take care of it for them without their help.

No Such Thing as a Bully is currently developing a sports component to help youth coaches address bullying with their players. This must be handled at the youth level, so behaviors don’t get solidified at the NFL level or in college. Our plan is good for coaches in all sports. Stay tuned: it’s coming soon!