Sporting the most ironic name in NFL history, Miami Dolphin Richie Incognito purportedly bullying a fellow 320-pound lineman should give us pause for reflection. It's emblematic of the continued wussification of America.
Incognito was asked to push teammate Jonathan Martin in order to make him tougher to help the team win. The bully-ee, Martin, left the team after his teammates left his table at lunch. It's a junior high school-like stunt, not cause for national hysteria.
Specifics are thin. Granted Incognito looks like he should be fishing off a bridge, but don't jump to conclusions. The left automatically blames Incognito because two things are in play here: race and sports. (1) Incognito is white and therefore a racist. (2) Football is brutal, involves money and there are winners and losers based on merit; therefore, it is bad. So the media immediately do a beat down on Incognito.
Lost in the incremental political correctness taking hold in our country is the fact that we are becoming soft. Kids are getting eighth place trophies for participating and misplaced praise for every little thing they do. We have a prime example in the White House now who acknowledges no faults of his own and who only blames others.
I was hazed as in football, in my college fraternity, and at Goldman Sachs. Hazing served a purpose and was usually done because they like you. It takes effort to haze, and guys generally only put forth such effort on those they want to make better. It's odd but it is a guy thing. Women shower each other with fake shallow compliments; guys kid you about your weaknesses. Which identifies problems and allows you to get better?
My dad was a drill sergeant at Parris Island. Soon Marine drill sergeants will have to ask politely, through their attorneys, vetted by human resources, if recruits will drop and give them five pushups.
Human interaction is complex, and it is not for us to judge its subtleties. The offensive language both Incognito and Martin used is how they talked. I wouldn't use it, but rap songs are worse. The First Amendment applies, even to football players.
Incognito was the "best friend Martin had on the team." He felt toughening Martin up was in his and the team's best interest. How do you think that happens in the NFL? It is certainly not in a sensitivity workshop led by a Birkenstock-wearing gluten-free college psych professor.
Hazing in the NFL is as old as shooting up a night club and filing for personal bankruptcy right after you retire. Crime in Oakland is so bad that the Raiders hired the Johnny Cochran Firm as defense coordinator. Crime is one thing; hurting someone's feelings is another.
After the Manti Te'o imaginary girlfriend episode, the NFL asked draftees their sexual preference. Most answered "frequently." Then they stopped the practice. Maybe a better way would be to have the players list their favorite movie actors. Most would probably name John Wayne or Bruce Willis. My guess is Martin listed Ned Beatty.
Football is violent. It's not a sport unless someone obliterates a tendon so loudly you can hear it in the stands. Braving a long line at the $9 beer stand in 35-degree game day weather gives them the right to call players cowards. It is odd, but that's how it is with some spectators.
Where does the locker room culture end and the PC world begin? Given the trajectory of America's current litigious and pansy-like culture, we need to err on the side of manning up.
Ron Hart is a syndicated op-ed humorist, award-winning author and TV/radio commentator. Email Ron@RonaldHart.com or visit www.RonaldHart.com
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