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After Incognito Scandal, Bullying In Sports Demands Reevaluation

Jordan Gary |
November 15, 2013 | 6:23 p.m. PST

Staff Writer

Jonathon Martin has become the center of some unwarranted ex-player scrutiny, especially in the media. (Creative Commons)
Jonathon Martin has become the center of some unwarranted ex-player scrutiny, especially in the media. (Creative Commons)
As is the case with any breaking story, no one knows all of the details right away. Over time, new information has been brought to light, and we inevitably learn shocking new things about the severity of this situation.

When I first heard the Jonathan Martin/Richie Incognito story, my initial reaction was shock. Not shock that this had occurred, but shock that a grown man playing for a professional football team stormed out of team facilities because he was being bullied. It seemed like something that would happen on a school playground, not in the NFL.

Then I thought about it a little more. It must have taken an insane amount of courage to finally stand up, say “enough is enough” and remove yourself from the situation, especially as a male in a profession that requires you to be one of the toughest, strongest people in society. He would be seen as a wimp and a coward when all he wanted to do was play the sport he loved without fear of being harassed every single day.

Like I said, no one knew most of the details we know now when the story first broke. There are still many things we do not yet know. However, I was a little disturbed when I watched this video clip of ex-NFL players and commentators discussing this issue on TV. How could they possibly be blaming Martin? Not only were commentators finding fault in Martin, but his own teammates cast doubt on his credibility, and openly and overwhelmingly supported his aggressor. They’re not sure if they want him back on the team. His own coach told him to be more aggressive and physical about the situation.

Clearly there is something wrong with the way society is viewing this situation, and it speaks to a much larger issue. There are many problems with the way we view victims of bullying in this society, but the way we view and discuss adult and/or male victims of bullying is abhorrent.

Why is it so unfathomable that being made fun of and taken advantage of to no end, even as an adult, can be detrimental to a person? Why does a person have to have something mentally wrong with them if they’re bullied? Why does a man have to physically fight an aggressor to prove himself and his worth, when we teach children to not physically fight back when bullied?

A number of people have started speaking up about the way we look at bullying in this culture, but this is only the beginning. In order to effectively address bullying, we need to address the ways in which we allow, even encourage, bullying to happen. Part of that includes addressing the differences in our treatment of adult and child bullies and bullying victims. If we teach our children to handle situations in a certain manner, then we should not turn around and expect adults to act in the complete opposite manner. It should not be expected that Martin fight back or hit his bully, just because he’s an adult, just because he’s a man, or just because he’s a football player.

Jonathan Martin did the right thing when he walked out of that facility, and we can only hope he set an example for others to follow.

Reach Staff Writer Jordan Gary here or follow her on twitter.



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