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Dolphins locker room flap is bad example for youth

Derek Joy

Derek Joy

Dolphins locker room flap is bad example for youth

By Derek Joy

     The ongoing saga surrounding the Miami Dolphins forced attention on workplace issues beyond football.

Two offensive linemen – Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito – are at the center of what some have described as conduct ranging from pranks, to hazing, to bullying.

Martin, 24, in his second year with the Dolphins, left the team last week and released voicemails of Incognito using racial slurs and making threats. Incognito, 30, has since released voicemails and text messages from Martin making threats.

“I don’t want to talk about it. It’s a sad situation. I think there’s more to it,” said Daryl Grice, an assistant principal at Miami Central, whose major league baseball career was prematurely ended by severe knee injuries.

More and more details have come to light in the week since Martin left the Dolphins to seek treatment for emotional abuse and distress.

As expected, most of the players interviewed by various media outlets have sided with Incognito, who in addition to pranks and making threats, reportedly pressured Martin into paying some $15,000 for dinner for the offensive linemen.

Though some players publicly sided with Incognito through the media also claimed to be unaware of any bullying or racist conduct on the part of the veteran offensive lineman with a bad boy/dirty player reputation.

Throughout the weeklong ordeal of fingering pointing and taking sides, one obvious issue has been ignored by many, except Miami Herald business writer Cindy Krischer Goodman, who skillfully crafted an article under the headline “Fins’ locker room is not the only workplace that has a bully.”

Krischer Goodman pointed out how bullying occurs, and is often ignored, in Corporate America. She also mentioned the fact that it takes courage to speak out against it.

Speaking out against bullying and hazing is likely to meet with some kind of retribution – if not economic or physical, in the form of how Dolphins players are siding with Incognito and against Martin.

What should not be ignored in this whole sordid mess is a very real concern to many. And that is what kind of example does this set for those who look up to professional athletes and how will youth be affected by it all?

“I’m still trying to get an understanding of it all,” said Miami Northwestern High School Athletic Director Andre Williams, who had a tryout with the Hamilton Tiger Cats of the Canadian Football League after being a three year starting quarterback at Florida A&M University.

“We did some things they called hazing, but not to that point. We carried lunch trays in the lunch room and shoulder pads to the locker room. But nothing like what happened with the Dolphins.”

“I’ve been at three schools (Edison, Carol City and Northwestern) and I haven’t seen anything like that. We certainly have to educate our kids at the high school level and make them understand that kind of conduct is unacceptable.”

Williams, in noting the significance of education, pointed out the reality of how optimist players look up to high school players, who look up to college and professional athletes.

Roland Smith, the head football coach at Miami Central High School, also views the flap between Incognito and Martin as a teaching tool.

“We don’t call it bullying. We call it hazing,” said Smith, a standout cornerback back for the University of Miami, whose knee injury limited his career to one year with the Miami Dolphins.

“You get more of that at the college level, not in high school. I had to sing, get haircuts, do skits. But no bullying.  That’s a prime example for coaches to educate kids. Show them what happens when you go too far. We’re like brothers.  Why would you hurt your brother?”

Said Williams: “I don’t think that incident will force high school kids to not play football. I just hope they don’t think they need to institute those kinds of things to be a part of a team.”



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