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incognito martin

This week’s “His Side” to last week’s post on the Richie Incognito & Jonathan Martin fiasco:  http://www.clutchmagonline.com/2013/11/she-said-man-down/

I’m 6’3” and 305 lbs. Outside of wrestling one semester in high school (hated the unitard) I have never played organized scholastic sports. However, I have played in countless pick up basketball games and ill-advised touch football games that always end with poked eyes, missing teeth and fingers going the wrong way. I’ve had some gross things yelled at me for missing layups or losing boards out-of-bounds. Things I would never repeat or want said in the presence of small children or animals. And these comments were uttered by friends! I have no clue exactly what happened in the Dolphins locker room, but I’m sure it was at least as bad as that. Nor do I think it’s something that can be resolved with a fine or an apology before a crowd of reporters. Mr. Incognito definitely needs to seek some professional help. The strange racial and scatological vitriol he spewed at Mr. Martin clearly comes from an ugly place. Unfortunately, that sort of behavior is acceptable in a sports context and that’s not going to change anytime soon.

The other part of the equation is that Mr. Martin was also out-of-order. I don’t subscribe to the notion that he should have hit the guy over the head or otherwise become physical with him; but, he should have followed the appropriate chain of command and went to the coaching staff versus the media. Maybe as a privileged kid of lawyers his ability to handle social problems may be influenced differently. So called hazing or bullying will continue in sports locker rooms, neighborhoods, and schools everywhere because it’s considered a right of passage or an awkward display of machismo- versus a cry for help.

Ronald Clinton is a freelance writer from Baltimore, MD and graduate of Morgan State University.  

*She Said/He Said is a weekly column on Clutch that will feature two sides to every story. Next week’s topic is “Should a man have a say in whether or not his girlfriend chooses to get an abortion”.  Email your side [email protected]

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  • keb

    How could you expect for Martin to have gone through the “chain of command” when the entire NFL (in this particular case) system propagates that type of machismo, bullying behavior? Do you honestly believe the coach would’ve penalized Incognito for being the jerk that he was? My best guess is that coach & staff would have likely told him in so many words to “man-up,” that this was just how it is, unfortunately. No one would dispute that the culture within football locker rooms is one that is much more hyper-masculine than the general societal culture. Expecting that the staff would have reacted in a way that is essentially atypical of that locker room culture is being idealistic (at best) and naive (at worst).

    Also, calling out Martin’s (perceived or actual) privilege serves no other purpose but to continue to create a class divide that his teammates perpetuated as well. I think Martin was smart in electing to seek out the venue that would create the most press around the issue of NFL locker room “banter” (read: verbal abuse). No one should have to be subjected to the type of violent threats and racist comments that Martin endured. It should not be an expectation that you must accept that behavior in order to be a “true” participant of whatever sports team you belong to.