The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Opinion-Locker-room culture inspires bullying

Illustration by Alex Bihm/The Collegian
Illustration by Alex Bihm/The Collegian

Actions by Miami football player Richie Incognito have shined a light on a much deeper subject in America — the culture of bullying.

In November, Dolphins’ offensive tackle Jonathan Martin abruptly left the team to seek help with emotional issues. Shortly after, allegations emerged that Incognito had bullied and threatened him in person and, in the final days, through social media and voicemail.

According to Incognito, he was told by coaches to “toughen” Martin up, part of an alarming culture of bullying seeping out of locker rooms and into everyday life.

Where is the line between cutting up with buddies and offending or verbally abusing an individual? The line is wherever the victims want to draw it and decide they have been offended. The problem is that most people in these situations don’t want to speak up for fear they will be viewed as weak or thin-skinned.

This all routes itself back to the locker-room culture. Sports Illustrated’s Jim Trotter recently asked several NFL players what they thought about the situation. The answers are simply astounding.

“You’re a grown-ass man. You need to stand up for yourself. Stop being soft,” said New York Giants safety Antrel Rolle.

Ex-Dolphins’ lineman Lyndon Murtha said he thought Martin was a “weak person” and that if Incognito “did offend him racially, that’s something you have to handle as a man.”

Seriously?

Martin put up with the abuse for more than 10 weeks before he decided to leave. What if others would have just stood up and said they were offended? What if someone told Incognito how ignorant he sounded? Sometimes people honestly get caught up in the “fun” and do not realize how awful they are being to someone.

That’s not to say Incognito didn’t understand what he was saying. Likely, he did. Simply put, if someone would have stood up weeks ago, there may not have been a story. Martin and Incognito might have been preparing with the team on this week’s game plan. Instead, one is suspended indefinitely, and one has left the team.

Sitting idly by and watching someone take verbal abuse is just as bad as dishing it out. Even among buddies, fun can get out of hand. It’s up to us to be responsible enough to stand up when things start to veer out of control and right the ship before it sinks.

The NFL is a great league, not perfect, but it’s hard to find a better way to spend a Sunday. The culture bred from locker-room banter is something the NFL and the rest of America needs to stifle.

People deserve to be afforded certain comforts and certainties in life — one being that they shouldn’t have to worry about whether John from accounting is coming down the hall to spark a few office laughs at their expense.

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