Sports culture should redefine limits

When it comes to attention on NFL teams, the Miami Dolphins often fly under the radar. But a spotlight is now shining on the Fins, and it’s not for a good record.

Dolphins offensive tackle Jonathan Martin left the team last week after checking into a hospital for emotional distress. The reported cause was sustained harassment from guard Richie Incognito, an NFL veteran known for his aggressive behavior.

A voicemail and text messages exchanged between the players exposed profanity, racial slurs and even death threats as typical conversation. Meanwhile, Incognito is suspended from the Dolphins.

However, teammates view Martin as in the wrong. ESPN’s James Walker described the perspective: “Martin walked out on the team before a big game due to a lunchroom prank. Martin is thin-skinned and cannot handle the rugged and macho NFL culture. Martin betrayed a veteran leader who was showing tough love.”

Whether Incognito deserves his indefinite suspension or Martin is also to blame, the debacle has drawn attention to a tainted football culture – one that can be extended to sports as a whole. Sports are competitive by nature, and this often breeds an atmosphere of aggression, even during practice and off the field. However, it’s reached a point where this is taken too far.

These individuals interacted so violently with each other, resorting to bullying in the name of a game. Bullying may seem like a strange term to use when considering two 300-pound men, but every individual, no matter his size, is susceptible to mental abuse. Athletes work at a profession in which their mental health can be just as taxed as their physical health.

Future professional athletes surround us on campus. We insist that Canes care for Canes and look out for each other. Would you want a fellow Cane to partake in, or bear the brunt of, such verbally aggressive locker room banter?

The lack of widespread outrage among the football community points to the problem. Martin and Incognito’s story sheds light on the emotionally abusive nature in professional sports, and this is what needs to be addressed.

While the situation between Martin and Incognito should not define either player’s career, its resolution could define what are acceptable standards when it comes to the culture in every locker room.


Editorials represent the majority view of The Miami Hurricane editorial board.