My View: Bullying behavior in sports - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

My View: Bullying behavior in sports

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As someone that played competitive football for 11 years, and as fans of the game, we know professional football is a tough sport -- at times even mean.

The NFL rulemakers have a name for mean behavior on the field. They call it "Unsportsmanlike." It comes with a stiff 15-yard penalty and can possibly rise up to an ejection or even a suspension.

But what about mean behavior off the field? What's that called? Bullying? Hazing? A rite of passage? Whatever you call it, it's wrong.

Players, coaches and even fans know off-field shenanigans have been going on for years. Rookies are forced to carry equipment, clean up the locker room, or are on the receiving end of various pranks. Funny? Tradition? Maybe for some. But this week, behavior that went too far went public.

Richie Incognito from the Miami Dolphins was suspended indefinitely for "detrimental conduct" as a result of allegations in his treatment of teammate Jonathan Martin. Incognito is a veteran with a reputation for dirty play and rough behavior. Martin was a classics major at Stanford. Incognito had a name for Martin: he called him the "Big Weirdo" and used other very derogatory and offensive remarks towards Martin.

Who in the organization knew what and when is still up for discussion. But this much can be said: stuff like this is unacceptable at any age. Everyone knows kids watch adults, even mimic their behavior. Like it or not, athletes are role models for kids. Most young boys dream of growing up and being professional players.

The NFL and all professional sports need to take the lead on this issue and put a stop to this damaging behavior. They should make it mandatory that it stops. Hazing on college campuses, bullying in schools and online, hostile work environments, it all needs to stop. No longer can anyone turn a blind eye to this behavior. Enough already. Sticks and stones may break bones and as we have seen, names can indeed hurt.

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