Incognito vs. Martin. I am sure now you have heard the story-- not only from sports broadcasters, but from news outlets as well.
In case you missed it, Jonathan Martin has filed a grievance that he was bullied by fellow Miami Dolphin Richie Incognito. This story is an onion-- with a whole lot of layers. Are there problems with Jonathan Martin mentally? Is Richie Incognito as bad a guy as some have made him out to be? Was there a lack of team discipline in this? And the question everyone is asking, and will continue to ask for days to come... Who was culpable in this incident?
It also brings up another point... how common is bullying in pro, college, and even grade school locker rooms? I played interscholastic sports through my senior year of high school, and I have suffered some level of bullying. Did I handle it right? Probably not-- I was a sensitive adolescent-- a tall, skinny, geeky person who had trouble at times relating. Unfortunately, tall, skinny, geeky people who can't relate are, more often or not, prey-- especially in high school locker rooms.
Will the Martin case put the spotlight on high school bullying? This isn't "Revenge of the Nerds" here-- these talented athletes are participating on teams, but sometimes can't focus on the court, or the field, due to problems in the locker room. I hope it isn't true, but I can't discount my own experience-- it HAS to be a problem somewhere, in some place, on some level. I also don't have specific cases of locker room bullying-- but I wouldn't be surprised if it doesn't come out that it happens somewhere, at some time.
Why don't these folks-- whoever they may be-- stand up for themselves? It is more complicated than that-- because bullying isn't physical. It's mental. Fear of reprisals, fear of ostracism, fear of contantly defending oneself-- those all contribute. And going to authority figures is out, fur the same reason-- fear of reprisal and ostracism by teammates.
The Jonathan Martin- Richie Incognito bullying case is not isolated. But it has led to a discussion whose time has come-- at all levels of sports.
That's my take-- I'm Tom Lee.