That isn’t only a player perspective. Duke teacher of sports psychology and sports activities ethics Greg Dale thinks it is a male perspective.
“I was teaching my class in Duke to a group of undergrads, and we were talking about this very thing within class, ” Dale says. “And the comments from several of the teenage boys were, ‘Well, he really needed to man up. He’s a man, and you’ve got to handle that on your own. He shouldn’t have walked away. ‘ And that’s the core of the problem immediately. ”
Hank Nuwer, associate professor of journalism in Franklin College in Indiana, offers written multiple books on hazing, including Wrongs of Passage. He says it is common in athletic hazing instances to blame the victim.
“Either he doesn’t measure up or he’s a sissy for reporting it, ” Nuwer says. “Or he doesn’t understand that Incognito had been just trying to toughen him up. It’s always put that way. ”
Minnesota Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway thinks what some design as bullying is really more like connecting.
HAZING BACKGROUND: Incognito’s bullying dates back to 2002
“The reality is, as a guy coming in, you need to understand the environment you’re in and take it with a grain of sodium, be able to dish it out and also take it and just become part of that group, ” he says. “I don’t know the situation (in Miami), what continued. But it happens. It happens all over the place.
“I think ‘bullying’ is strongly overused at every age in this country, starting at my 6-year-old. People are just rude. People are indicate. I wouldn’t call it bullying. I believe it’s just being ridiculous. Yet as a grown man, it’s really a brotherhood, ball-busting mentality than I think we’re directly coming in somebody. ”
Crossing the line
Traditional hazing in the NFL may range from having rookies carry make pads to the practice field to having them sing college fight tracks in the lunchroom to taping these to the goal posts after exercise. New Orleans Saints rookies were asked to place pillowcases over their heads during training camp in 1998 and run through dorm hallways while twenty to 30 veterans hit them, some with a bag of cash.
“But we are talking the workplace” in this case, Nuwer says. “As glamorous a job being an NFL player is, it’s still the workplace. And this goes past hazing to a kind of harassment that technically could be violating certain labour laws if it holds true. (Or) it could fall under a hate crimes category for use of the N-word. ”
Washington Redskins linebacker London Fletcher, who is in his 16th NFL season, says Incognito’s apparent utilization of that word is beyond the pale.
“Obviously, it shows racism, bigotry, to keep a voice mail like that, ” Fletcher says. “He probably said that to the guy’s face. He had been very bold. … That was not hazing. That was flat bullying. … That right there was beyond the scope of anything I’ve noticed that guys have done to rookies. ”
Gannon states he saw bullying in locker rooms in high school and much less so in college and at their first pro stop in Minnesota.
“Then I went to Kansas City where I didn’t find any of it, ” he says. “Marty Schottenheimer created a great situation exactly where older guys mentored younger guys. Then I went out to Oakland, and I almost got sick to my stomach at how bad it was. ”
He describes a moment when a group of defensive players snapped up then-Raiders tight end Doug Jolley, taped him to the ground and covered him with Icy Hot and baby powder while striking him.
“I walked in, in front of this, and I flipped out, ” Gannon says. “Guys were cheering and laughing. ”
Gannon says he or she stood up and put a stop into it: “There wasn’t anybody else which had enough passion and character who was simply going to say, ‘You know what? This is wrong. And it has to stop. ‘”
The trouble is the fact that some players see some kinds of hazing as little more than good thoroughly clean fun.
“I’ve certainly not had a situation where it have got to the point where you needed to step in, ” Fletcher says. “Sometimes rookies kind of take things the wrong way. You might toss their clothes in the cold tub. They may get offended about that, therefore you have to calm the situation down. It was something beyond that. ”
Need for leadership
The best way to stop locker room bullying, Gannon says, has strong team leaders. The Dolphins had a six-member leadership council — and Incognito was a member.
“When (Broncos quarterback) Peyton Manning stands in front of the room, they have like E. F. Hutton, everyone listens, ” Gannon says. “There’s not enough guys who have the tennis balls to stand in front of a group of sixty other men to say, ‘You understand what? You guys are wrong. It has to stop. ‘
“But when you go up to that podium, the minute you do that, you’re going to have half the guys in the room go, ‘What he said is dead-on correct, and I’m going to support him. ‘ And the other half of the guys are likely to go, ‘Who’s this guy? What’s he or she talking about? What gives him the best to say that? ‘ That’s the issue. ”
Corbett reported from Ashburn, Va., and Jones from Englewood, Colo. Contributing: Jarrett Bell; Gary Mihoces; and Tom Pelissero from Eden Prairie, Minn.
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