Sunday, November 10, 2013

What Does It Teach The Children

The hazing of football player Dolphins offensive tackle Jonathan Martin is all over the news and there is strong backlash against the suspension of Dolphin’s guard Richie Incognito. The other players are saying that this normal, that physical, verbal and sexual harassment is all part of playing sports. An article in MMQB said,
Which brings me to my first point: I don’t believe Richie Incognito bullied Jonathan Martin. I never saw Martin singled out, excluded from anything, or treated any differently than the rest of us. We’d have dinners and the occasional night out, and everyone was invited. He was never told he can’t be a part of this. It was the exact opposite. But when he came out, he was very standoffish. That’s why the coaches told the leaders, bring him out of his shell. Figure him out a little bit.

That’s where Incognito ran into a problem. Personally, I know when a guy can’t handle razzing. You can tell that some guys just aren’t built for it. Incognito doesn’t have that filter. He was the jokester on the team, and he joked with everybody from players to coaches. That voicemail he sent came from a place of humor, but where he really screwed up was using the N-word. That, I cannot condone, and it’s probably the biggest reason he’s not with the team right now. Odd thing is, I’ve heard Incognito call Martin the same thing to his face in meetings and all Martin did was laugh. Many more worse things were said about others in the room from all different parties. It’s an Animal House. Now Incognito’s being slandered as a racist and a bigot, and unfortunately that’s never going to be wiped clean because of all the wrong he’s done people in his past. But if you really know who Richie is, he’s a really good, kind man and far from a racist.
And that is the thing about bullying and harassment, the harasser never thinks that the target is being harassed. As one person’s comment said,
The guy writing this article is obviously trying to defend Incognito, but he doesn't seem to understand that he's basically proving Martin's case. If you read between the lines on this article you find out that 1) Martin was an outcast on his own team, and 2) Coaches were inciting his teammates to "fix" him.
The Bureau of Land Management has a good definition of a “hostile work environment,”
What is a hostile work environment?
A hostile work environment is a form of harassment. It is demonstrated by such severe and pervasive conduct that permeates the work environment and interferes with an employee’s ability to perform his or her job.

How does hostile work environment relate to discrimination?
A hostile work environment is actionable in the EEO process when it is based on allegations of discrimination; e.g., race, color, sex, national origin, religion, age, disability or sexual orientation, or reprisal.
Nowhere in the law does it has an exemption for sports teams, just because it is pervasive and is a way of doing business doesn’t make it legal. Sports teams should be held to the same standard as other businesses.

Many players are held up as prima donnas and can get away with anything. In Torrington Connecticut two football players raped a 13 year old girl and in Steubenville, Ohio and Maryville, Missouri the same thing happened, football players raping a girl. In all three towns the victims were blamed, Katie Steen wrote in the Michigan Daily that,
“What was a 13 year old girl doing hanging around with 18 year old guys…” one girl posted on Twitter. I’d ask the question in response, what were 18-year-old boys doing have sex with girls who weren’t even out of middle school? “You destroyed two people’s lives” another tweet reads, referring, of course, to the boys’ lives. This is past the point of rape apology — it’s sympathy.

One of the football players, Gonzalez, won the title of MVP for his team, and in response to the charges, Torrington High School’s Athletic Director Mike McKenna stated, “If you think there’s some wild band of athletes that are wandering around then I think you’re mistaken … These things happen everywhere and we’re not any different than any other community.” And he’s right.

I think it’s worth stopping and considering how this all-American, sports-centric model that exists in so many high schools — and colleges — affects how people view masculinity and sexual assault. I’m not saying football is to blame for rape, just like too many shots at a party, a short skirt, not having a boyfriend, letting him pay for you at the bar … is not to blame for rape. Rapists are to blame for rape. It’s been said so many times and yet it still hasn’t quite seem to have gotten through to everyone.
And the mindset of blaming the victim is carried over into the pros and is supported by the coaches, in these cases it was rape and in the Dolphin’s case it was racial and sexual harassment.

People tell me that sports build character, but I don’t like the character that it builds. What does it teach the children?

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