By Ken Reed
It appears that Miami Dolphins offensive lineman Richie Incognito is the classic bully. Moreover, his behavior has been enabled by coaches throughout high school, college and the NFL because he’s a good football player.
Before he was suspended, Incognito was even a member of the Dolphins’ leadership council!
The rap sheet on Incognito is a long one. But he survives in the football culture because he can knock opponents on their butts. We also know now that he leaves voicemails for teammates that include the N-word, a ton of profanities and a list of threatening atrocities. Jonathan Martin, a teammate and favorite target of Incognito’s, finally had enough and left the Dolphins a few days ago.
A lot of NFL players and insiders are saying Martin was too soft and should’ve “manned up” in dealing with Incognito. That’s bunk.
“Some people say: It’s the NFL, that these are men’s men who should put up with tough stuff because they’re built that way,” writes Benjamin Hochman in The Denver Post. “I say: it’s people like them who let people like Richie Incognito get away with being Richie Incognito. Bullies are a huge problem in our culture, but so are bully sympathizers, who loom in the sports world.”
Bullying starts in our schools and is a growing problem. Sadly, suicide can be the end result.
In October, two teenage girls were charged in a bullying-suicide case in Florida involving a 12-year-old classmate. Moreover, across the United States, at least a dozen suicides in recent years have been attributed, in part, to bullying.
“The Dolphins’ mess isn’t surprising and is a reflection of what is happening, or not happening in schools and society in general,” says Jim Olmstead, director of strategic partnerships for The Foundation for Character Development, an organization that helps schools deal with their bullying problems.
The Incognito/Martin case is certainly sad. But sadder still is the reality that young adolescents are taking their lives in this country because bullies aren’t being effectively dealt with.
“I haven’t seen too many schools/districts take the necessary steps,” says Olmstead.
“I think many are worried about reputation, cost to address the issue, etc., more than they are worried about the kids. Too many schools are only doing the bare basics and then sweeping it under the rug. Which is what the Dolphins have been doing it appears. But we can see now it eventually comes back to bite them.”
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #26 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Fix Youth Sports? – John O’Sullivan is Founder and CEO of Changing the Game Project and author of “Changing the Game: The Parents Guide to Raising Happy, High Performing Athletes and Giving Youth Sports Back to Our Kids.” We discuss overzealous adults in youth sports, the dangers of sport specialization, youth sports entrepreneurs and the profit-at-all-costs mindset, and the growing socio-economic gap in youth sports.
Follow on Facebook: @SportsForumPodcast
Episode #25 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Physical Education Should Be a Critical Component of K-12 School Design – Michael Horn is co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation.
Episode #24 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Mental Health and Athletes: Ending the Stigma – Nathan Braaten and Taylor Ricci are the founders of Dam Worth It, a non-profit created to end the stigma around mental health at colleges and universities through sport, storytelling, and community creation.
Episode #23 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Olympian Benita Fitzgerald Mosley Talks Title IX, Youth Sports and the Olympics.
Episode #22 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Rethinking Sports Fandom with Author Craig Calcaterra – We discuss Calcaterra’s new book “Rethinking Fandom: How to Beat the Sports-Industrial Complex at Its Own Game” and explore new ways to be a fan.
Episode #21 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Chatting About a Broken Game With Baseball Writer Pedro Moura – Moura is a national baseball writer for Fox Sports. We discuss how and why the game of baseball is broken, what factors caused it, and offer a few thoughts on how to “fix” a great game.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
- League of Fans Sports Policy Director Ken Reed quoted in Washington Post column titled "What happened to P.E.? It’s losing ground in our push for academic improvement," by Jay Mathews
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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