Ball Talk with Brandon: Bullying not limited to high school sports

Brandon Miramontes, Sports Editor

The world of professional sports never gets any less crazy.  During the month of October the Miami Dolphins offensive tackle Jonathan Martin left the team because he was bullied by his teammates.

Most would say that he should just toughen up and get over it but this is a serious issue. Martin received threats and was called many racial slurs.  He finally broke his silence and left the Miami football team.

Martin later met with attorney Ted Wells who was appointed by the NFL to investigate what exactly happened in the Dolphins organization. Wells first interviewed the main offender offensive tackle Rich Incognito.

Martin’s lawyer, David Cornwell, said that Martin endured “daily vulgar comments and threats,” according to the “New York Daily News.”

Incognito admitted to using racial threats and verbally threatening Martin in person and through text message.  Incognito defended his actions by saying that the whole team engaged in such activity.  This revelation startled Wells and he began to further investigate.  The investigation is not over and the NFL has suspended Incognito, although he may return before the season ends because of the overwhelming support from the rest of the Dolphin athletes.  Martin also says that he will return to the NFL, just not with the Dolphins.

Incognito is to attend a hearing for the investigation.

“I will fully cooperate with Wells,” Incognito said.  “My actions were out of brotherhood, not bullying.”

This controversy in the NFL brings up another issue.  If this type of bullying can happen in professional sports, can’t it happen as well in high school sports?  In fact, it does happen in high school sports more often than people think.

According to a study conducted by the Alfred University, 24 percent of high school athletes (approximately 800,700 athletes) are subject to hazing.  The act of hazing is often a form of initiation for new athletes and is thought to be a joke for the returning athletes, but sometimes the hazing goes a little too far.

“The varsity team at my godson’s high school made the freshman team put Bengay on their genitalia as an initiation,” said a man who asked to remain anonymous.

Physically these acts of hazing can be quite dangerous and painful.  Though many athletes say that hazing is worth it because they are on the team, these psychological insults and verbal attacks can be very damaging. Unfortunately, hazing has become part of the culture among high school athletes.

“We all call each other names and make fun of one another,” junior Paolo Catapang, who is part of the Cross Country team, said. “None of us really take it seriously.”

To prevent such actions, both coaches and students need to be more vigilant of acts of bullying or hazing.  Coaches need to be more aware of acts of hazing and bullying and realize that there are no exceptions to who can bully because no one can justify bullying.  Students need to understand that it is okay to tell on a teammate if they or another athlete are being verbally or physically bullied.  A professional athlete was able come out and explain his experience and now he no longer has to fear being bullied— high school athletes should be able to do the same.