I'm in the process of finishing editing my recent writing project a Young Adult novel about bullying. As an ex high school teacher, I know how wide-spread bullying is among young people. With the intro of social media, that kind of behavior has increased dramatically. Now we not only have physical bullying, we have cyber-bullying. There's bullying going on, not only in our schools, but on all levels of society. We just have different names for it: Hazing, sexual harassment, intimidation, etc. So, I wasn't surprised to read about the bullying going on with the Miami Dolphins of the NFL. I'm glad to read that Johnathan Martin is bringing charges against Richie Incognito. (incognito: disguised or concealed identity, according to Webster's) From my experience with bullies, all of them are at their core concealing they are COWARDS. By bullying, Richie has probably been concealing this part of his identity for a long time. Incognito is what he is. What else is he hiding? He may change, he may not. It is highly probably that he will remain a big bully for the rest of his life.
But what of Johnathon Martin? What is it about him that he attracts a bully like Incognito? Martin is by no means a small man, nor is he weak, nor does he lack intelligence, nor courage. It takes a good deal of courage to play in the NFL. Why, for goodness sake, has he put up with this behavior from Incognito and some of his teammates for this long? Weaker, smaller, vulnerable kids, I understand how they find it difficult, near to impossible to fight back, frightened to raise the issue with authorities. I understand the history of women being exploited by men (bosses) in the workplace, the military being one of those oft repeated workplaces. But in Martin's case, I'm having a problem understanding why he didn't kick the hell out of Incognito. Or, at least try. There's an old expression I learned a long time ago: He who gets the first punch in, has the first punch in. Okay, okay, Johnathon, you probably did it the right and legal way. But you missed out on another possible and very satisfying way to stop being bullied called the playground, down and dirty way.
And what about the coaching staff and administration. Miami has a head coach and numerous assistants, trainers, locker room personnel. Are you telling me that not one of them had any idea of what was going on?
Give me a break! If the GM didn't know, he should have. If the coach and his staff didn't know, they should have. The owner should fire the lot of them.
I'll probably take some flak for this blog, but I have no sympathy for bullies. In another history, they would have been recruited by the Nazi to run their death camps. I do not believe this is an exaggeration. There are people who love to hurt people. I wish it wasn't so.
On a lighter note in the NFL, aren't we all cheering for Alex Smith, a decent man and a damn good QB, as he leads the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs. The universe is rewarding him.
Here's a football poem from my upcoming book - Sweat: New and Selected Poems About Sports
Why I Never Played Football by Tom Meschery
It's not that I lacked courage.
I was big and weighed enough to make
a decent tight end or with a little work
an offensive lineman or a fullback.
What I couldn't see myself doing
was getting dirty, playing in mud
or freezing in snow which back then,
when I was young, is what you had
to endure. Perhaps these days
with covered stadiums I'd think
differently. Still, there was bound
to be more blood playing football,
yours or somebody else's, than
playing another sport. Golf
for example. See how clean
those guys are out on the links,
how civilized in their cardigans,
in their nestly pressed trousers?
What my musings are all about...
Blogging might well be the 21st century's form of journaling. As a writing teacher, I have always advised my students to keep a daily journal as a way of organizing their thoughts for future writing projects, a discipline I have unfortunately never consistently practiced myself. By blogging, I might finally be able to follow my own good advice.
The difference between journaling and blogging is that the blogger opens his or her writing to the public, something journal- writers are usually reluctant to do. I am not so reticent.
The trick for me will be to avoid cluttering the internet with more blather, something none of us need more of. If I stick to subjects I know: sports and literature, I believe I can avoid that pitfall. I can't promise that I'll not stray from time to time to comment on ancillary subjects, but I will make every attempt to be interesting and perhaps even insightful.