Americans love football. I am not sure if it is our national pastime, many think its baseball, but Sundays, it seems, are reserved for church and football. We revere our teams and players.
Football has been dominating the news and not in a good way. The NFL came out with its long awaited report on the Miami Dolphins. They found that Miami player Richie Incognito and two other players engaged in a pattern of “abusive, unprofessional behavior”-bullying against player Jonathan Martin, another player and a trainer. Martin, an up and coming 2nd year player quit the team because he could no longer tolerate the taunts.
The behavior in the Dolphin locker room, according to the NFL report, included racial abuse directed toward Martin, who is African-American; vulgar remarks about his mother and sister; homophobic taunts; and ethnic remarks against a Japan-born trainer. What makes this even more outrageous is the Dolphin’s leadership claiming they were unaware of any of this. Hard to believe.
Michael Sam was an All American defensive lineman from Missouri and the SEC Defensive Player of the Year. And he is gay. Sam is eligible for the upcoming NFL draft and was expected to go in the early or middle rounds. If drafted, Sam would be the first openly gay player in the NFL. Yes, it is 2014.
Several anonymous NFL sources have suggested the league may not be ready for an openly gay player and Sam may have hurt his chances in the draft. Others feel that Sam would be a “distraction in the locker room”-that’s code for not welcome.
Two unconnected events: bullying in one case and discriminatory, homophobic actions in the other. Any company culture that allows these kind of behaviors and attitudes to continue, needs mending and fast.It will continue to occur in the NFL as long as the ownership tolerates it. It will stop when they make it stop.
While it is easy to look down on the NFL, incivility, bullying and discrimination is not just happening in professional football. It happens, unfortunately, in many workplaces. All with negative consequences.
Everyone should be appalled by these events. And everyone should make sure that it is not happening in his or her place of work.
Other posts that you may want to read:
- The Cost of Workplace Incivility
- Bullying: The Biggest Profit-Sucking Problem in the U.S.
- Bullying: 5 Things Businesses Must Do To Resolve