The typical NFL news of exciting games, charismatic players and feel-good stories has been overtaken in recent weeks by the bullying and harassment allegations in the Miami Dolphins organization. The issue serves as a prime example of what can happen when wrongful behavior becomes an acceptable norm within a culture. News reports continue to expose information about a messy situation in which Dolphins’ lineman Jonathan Martin left the team, citing mistreatment from teammates—mainly bullying and harassment allegations against suspended teammate Richie Incognito—as his reason for leaving.
As the NFL launches an investigation into the matter, the public needs to take the situation as an important lesson in speaking out if one does not feel comfortable with the words and actions of a situation. Responses to this story indicate that the wrongdoings with vulgar language and treatment in the Dolphins’ locker room are not specific to one team, but rather a manifestation of the culture that exists within many locker rooms in the NFL.
It evidently took a complicated breakup and decision to leave by Martin to bring the issue to light. Additional stories, interviews and investigation results are still forthcoming but the immediate takeaway from the Miami locker room saga is to speak up immediately when an individual or culture crosses the line into inappropriate behavior.
In doing so, concerns are brought to the table and individuals—and even cultures—are held accountable for actions. Even if speaking up is a tough task, it creates a better environment in the long run. Otherwise, long-term experiences, such as Martin and the Dolphins, become a compounded issue and the individual is forced to function in an uncomfortable environment.
The Incognito-Martin story goes to show that locker room issues exist beneath the fame and glory of the NFL. Bullying and harassment are major problems that need to be dealt with in society. This editorial board encourages individuals to have the courage to speak up in uncomfortable situations, to save the individual and associated group or culture from long-term problems.
Editorials in the “In the Loop” section reflect the majority opinion of the Editorial Board, comprised of five editors.