By Ken Reed
As I went through Ted Wells’ report on the Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin situation in Miami, my primary emotion transitioned from anger to sadness.
What Incognito said and did was despicable. And if the allegations in the report are true, offensive line coach Jim Turner should be fired for, among numerous other things, buying a male blow-up doll for Martin. Offensive linemen Mike Pouncey and John Jerry should be suspended for bullying, and Dolphins’ head coach Joe Philbin should be severely disciplined, if not fired. It’s extremely hard to believe that Philbin didn’t have an inkling of what was going on in his team’s locker room.
But anger, frustration and disappointment aside, this whole case is just plain sad for anyone who loves sports. I played organized team sports through college and what I miss most is not the athletic competition but the camaraderie of being on a team with a collective goal. Upon reflection, it’s the bonding, and the sharing of ups and downs through a season and career, that makes team sports special.
I have been part of enough locker rooms to know that jokes at another player’s expense are part of the locker room culture that helps develop team bonding. Things can be said and done in a locker room that are part of the good-natured bonding ritual that would be viewed as mean-spirited in other parts of society.
But what was going on in Miami went well beyond anything that could be considered healthy.
“We also recognized that good-spirited goading often contributes to team bonding,” wrote Wells in his report. “But limits should exist.” Indeed.
There apparently weren’t any limits in Philbin’s locker room. Incognito, and his band of abusive brothers, went well beyond the athlete’s code of allowable conduct. They broke an important trust in team sports.
To me, the best part of team sports is that it brings people together — often for life.
The fact that it was just the opposite in Miami is why the Incognito-Martin case is so sad.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #14 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Making Sense of the Injury Pandemic in Major League Baseball – The guest is Gary McCoy, a strength, conditioning and high performance coach who has worked with several Major League Baseball organizations. Our focus is the injury pandemic in baseball, what’s causing it and how it can be fixed.
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Episode #13 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Conversation With Long-Time MLB Exec Dan Evans About What’s Right With Baseball and What Could Be Better – Evans is a former general manager for the Los Angeles Dodgers and is currently a consultant for Go the Distance Baseball, which owns the Field of Dreams movie site.
Episode #12 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Fun Chat With Dan Gutman, Author of the Baseball Card Adventure Series for Kids
Episode #11 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Latest on Brain Trauma, Concussions and CTE with Dr. Chris Nowinski – Nowinski is CEO of the Concussion Legacy Foundation.
Episode #10 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: An Issues Discussion With Paul Dolan – Dolan is the Cleveland Indians Owner and CEO.
Episode #9 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports Issues With Ralph Nader – Nader is a consumer advocate and was named one of the “100 Most Influential Americans of the 20th Century” by Time magazine. He is the founder of League of Fans.
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.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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.
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