Chillin' with Dylan

When is hazing really bullying?

    It’s not an easy question to answer, really.
    I know first-hand from my college days that there is an inescapable trait most men have to “razz” each other. Most of the time it’s not meant to cause serious psychological harm to the other parties involved but the other side of the coin is that sometimes it’s more harmful than we think.
    Richie Incognito of the Miami Dolphins has been in the public spotlight for the last few days and the story, like most media releases these days, appears to have been off-base from it’s original tone.
    Apparently, for those who are oblivious to the story to this point, the Dolphins’ lineman had sent some nasty texts to a teammate recently and the action forced the other player to dismiss himself from practice on day siting “emotional reasons” for leaving.
    That was the original report.
    Then came the news that potentially it was members of the coaching staff who came forward telling Incognito to “push” felllow lineman Jonathon Martin for being too soft.
    Hearing that reminds me of a scenario out of “A Few Good Men.” In remembering that film I seem to recall that all the way at the top, it was Jack Nicholson’s character who paid the piper at the end for the hazing that caused the death of a soldier.
    While this example is not quite as extreme, it is disturbing to hear nonetheless.
    Putting it into perspective, these are grown men. Unless you’re a punter, being anything under 225 pounds is a rarity in the NFL and even some of the kickers would be good to have in a brawl.
    In schools we have been campaigning to stop bullying and the violence that it leads to and this issue only adds to what our kids see on television is the “right way to treat weaker teammates” on the football field.
    Just the other day at the Bellmont/Concordia football game I witnessed a Cadet wide receiver throw his hands in the air in the direction of the outside official because he did not get a pass interference call. I saw the play. It was pass the NFL.
    At the high school level it was a clean play. Believe me when I say that our kids are watching. Too closely perhaps.
    So here we are with this Incognito business. According to teammates, the player was a great locker room leader and an awesome teammate to have on the squad. I’m sure Martin would beg to differ.
    In a sport like football, being tough seems to be an important aspect of the game and I can see how hazing rookies or younger players can have a place in that environment with an appropriate flavor.
    Some rookies have to carry the team bags off the bus or planes. Sometimes they have to foot the bill at dinner. It happens. Remember before you shed a tear that they’re making millions to play a game.
    Having said that, there is a lot to be mentioned for going too far. There can be several examples when a hazing can get personal, which is what the Miami Dolphins incident appears to be.
    I feel as a member of the media I can say this: we interfere too much to get a story.
    Sports media, particularly ESPN, go out of their way to make something out of nothing sometimes. I remember the last Super Bowl when talks that the Harbaugh brothers were not on speaking terms was a hot story. Who cares?!?
    All that to say that this Dolphins thing should have been dealt with in-house. I’m not even sure that there is a story here. When a kid gets picked on in a school bus it doesn’t get plastered on the front page, the bus driver takes care of it (usually) right then and there.
    Coach Joe Philbin should have control of his locker room. Even more so, the other players in the Miami uniforms should step in and take a leadership role to squelch this incident before it became national headlines.
    Bullying should never have a place in our society but the sad truth is that it is around everywhere. While definitely not condoning the action, the appropriate response for parents in this situation is to use the Dolphins’ story as fodder for a lesson in how to cope in those situations.
    I feel at times we may be sheltering kids too much. No, kids should not go picking a fight with a bully to prove a point but allowing these things to happen unchecked only opens the door for other “life bullies” to step all over these kids when they grow up.
    This is a matter of self worth for most parents. When kids feel they are important in this life they will do what they can to stand up for themselves, especially later in life. Encourage them!