Black Vs Orange: Hazing in Sports
Though some see it as seemingly pointless and destructive, hazing does in fact have its benefits. My question to you is: What joins people together? What is it that groups of people bond over? Suffice it to say that the act of hazing can in fact be seen as something that gives people a lasting connection and something to share in common. Indeed, it is imperative to evaluate both the benefits of hazing as well as what the actual hazing consists of.
In the case of Jonathan Martin, an offensive tackle for the Miami Dolphins, it can be argued that the form of hazing he experienced was crass and disrespectful–that much I can agree with.
Yet, fellow NFL players, Martin’s teammates specifically, will argue that hazing is something that every single rookie goes through.
Additionally, we are talking about professionals that get paid to do something that most people cannot physically do. The profession is so demanding that hazing seems most effective in making sure the entire team has a forceful bond. Teams that do not fully work together do not win games.
Depending on the degree of hazing and how it is done, it could truly produce positive results in the assurance that the team shares both common goals and experiences.
Clearly, Richard Incognito took hazing a bit too far. Martin may have overreacted, but only he and Incognito know the details of the situation. Is this an unfortunate case of hazing? Yes. Does this diminish the validity and productivity of hazing itself? Some say it does not.
Regardless, hazing is likely to continue in the realm of professional sports. In the end, professional sports players are paid to endure rough conditions and continue to push through. Thus, these professionals are expected to push through situations like these.
Hazing is a practice that has been around for as long as sports and fraternities have been in existence. The normal routine is that rookies and freshman generally go through some sort of initiation ritual—a rite of passage, if you will. However, what happens when it goes too far? What happens when hazing turns into outright bullying?
Jonathan Martin felt so strongly that he was being personally targeted that he up and left the Miami Dolphins. The Stanford graduate was recently drafted for the Dolphins and played as an offensive tackle. At 6’5” and over 300 pounds, it is reasonable to wonder what could possibly cause this man to walk out on an NFL team. What could have triggered such a response?
News corporations across the country are investigating this story and trying to dig deeper into the cause. A voicemail was sent to Martin from fellow Dolphin Richard Incognito in which Incognito repeats racial slurs and ends the message with a death threat.
Many NFL players defend Incognito—arguing that every player endures this sort of treatment as a rookie and that the death threat was a joke; thus, the entire voicemail should not be seen as valid. In addition, Martin was forced to pay for a Vegas trip that he was not even allowed to attend.
Joke or not, hazing or crossing the line is a problem that players face. Sure, the way each player handles it could be different. However, it could also be argued that what Incognito did to Martin was an especially horrific application of hazing and an abuse of power.
Yes, hazing can create a sense of connection among people, but when it is done in the wrong way, its effects are treacherous. Martin made an extraordinarily bold statement by walking out on his own team. This goes to show the magnitude of the pure frustration one could feel having to just sit there and take it.