The NFL typically deals with scandals surrounding player lockouts, crooked referees, and concussions. Bullying? Not so much. However, the issue has come to the forefront during the recent scandal surrounding Miami Dolphin teammates’ in-person and cyberbullying of left tackle Jonathan Martin.
Martin, a Stanford graduate and former top protector to Andrew Luck, left the Miami Dolphins and, through his agent, alleged harassment by multiple teammates. At the center was Richie Incognito, a player with a checkered past who was thrown out of two schools and released by several NFL teams.
No one knows exactly what happened – in fact it has entered the realm of punditry as football critics debate the relative merit of the ‘sanctity of the locker room.’ Nonetheless, it has become clear that cyberbullying is a critical issue nationally that can even touch the nation’s pastime, NFL football.
What will be interesting to see is how the Jonathan Martin impacts the national debate about bullying. What does it mean for our collective consciousness, and our collective definition of bullying, if a 320 pound NFL lineman superstar can be bullied into leaving a team? Does it mean that bullying impacts everyone, which makes it a serious issue that must desperately be addressed, or does it mean it is so pervasive that there is no possible way to completely eradicate it?