NFL, Bullying, Male Bonding, and More

Friday, November 08, 2013

The Miami Dolphins enter the field prior turnover the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Sun Life Stadium on October 31, 2013 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Chris Trotman/Getty)

The story of Richie Incognito and his NFL teammate Jonathan Martin touches on bullying, race, class, and football culture. Josh Levin, Slate's executive editor and host of the sports podcast "Hang up and Listen", and Emily Bazelon, Slate writer and author of Sticks and Stones, discuss the latest.

→ NYC Slate Podcast Tapings: "Hang Up and Listen" Monday at City WineryNovember 19th Slate Politics Gabfest at The Bell House


Emily Bazelon and Josh Levin

Comments [35]

A.R. from City of Whatevs

Brad Davers from Canarsie, thank you for a very insightful and articulate post. Glad you showed up.

Feb. 20 2014 11:27 AM
A.R. from City of etc.

imposing *in size* .. sorry

Feb. 20 2014 11:23 AM
A.R. from CIty of No Size

Furthermore, it operates a subtle taunt of the bullying target to repeatedly chant, as the media has done ad nauseum in the case of Martin, that he is large and strong. There is an implicit shaming of the male in this case. Such remarks, and any failure to unpack them and call them for what they are, are further traumatizing to people who are bullied. They shame and target, by extension, all people who happen to be imposing inside AND AT THE SAME TIME bullied. Sorry for the frustration in my previous post, but I am very frustrated at having to make this point repeatedly in various contexts. I realize that many involved may agree with it.

Feb. 20 2014 11:21 AM
A.R. from City of No Size

Emily and Brian: Can you address the atrocious, "He's 250 pounds and 6 foot 4 BUT he was bullied" ideology? It's hugely problematic and very offensive. To assume that someone's body size (with attendant implications about gender) should or does somehow make them ineligible for bullying is profoundly ignorant, and leaves EVERYONE out in the cold. It is beside the point--and a dead end to invoke--that some bullies are sometimes deterred by large physical size. Bullying--whether verbal or physical--is bullying. Just as rape is not about sex, bullying is not about the target's physical presence. Period. Got it?

Feb. 20 2014 11:16 AM

Boys Will Be Men

Boys are in trouble.
The spate of school shootings in
1998 and 1999 amplified a warning
being sounded by social scientists.

After 20 years of concern over the
status of girls raised by the women's
movement, some experts say it is boys
we need to turn our attention to.

There are disturbing statistics to back this up.

Four boys are diagnosed as
emotionally disturbed for every one girl.

Six boys are diagnosed with
attention deficit disorder
for every one girl.

Boys kill themselves five
times more often than girls.

Boys are four times more likely
to drop out of high school than girls.

Girls now outnumber boys entering college.

How do boys become men?

How do they learn courage,
the difference between right and wrong,
and the meaning of love?

What hurts them, makes them violent,
and sometimes kills them? Boys Will Be Men,
a documentary film about growing up male in America,
seeks answers to these questions.


Nov. 21 2013 03:18 PM
fuva from harlemworld

BK from Hoboken, and the bloke who thumbed me down:

I'm sorry, but you are wrong. Re-listen to the segment and you will hear the well-meaning but race-ignorant commentator lament the de-blackening of Martin because of his BEHAVIOR...

Actually, the problem is your sorry eagerness to jump to racism-denial (the new racism), which will get us nowhere...

Nov. 08 2013 11:54 AM
Susan from nyc

Remember Roosevelt Greer? He was a sensitive football player who did needlepoint and he was a great football player. One doesn't have to be mean and violent to be a good football player. We have a culture of violence in this country in all areas that is bad for people, bad for our country and bad for our planet. Grow up people and start behaving like decent, reasonable and humane human beings.

Nov. 08 2013 11:43 AM
BK from Hoboken

Fuva- mentioned less black because Martin is bi-racial, not because he is smart or high achieving. Don't jump to race conclusions.

Nov. 08 2013 11:40 AM

What about the role of drugs in all this? These guys are HUGE -- especially Incognito. Does anyone think this is natural? Or that steroids are used only in baseball -- where size isn't nearly as important? Wouldn't that account for Incognito's anger issues as well-- there was a video of him exploding at a restaurant or some public place. Seems to me along with the brain injuries drug use needs to be explored as well. Might also account for the high rate of depression and suicide after these players retire.

Nov. 08 2013 11:34 AM

We need more time for Chris Hadfield.... And MUCH less time for Incognito.

Nov. 08 2013 11:27 AM
fuva from harlemworld

The white guest's race analysis – God bless him, he means well – is typically lacking, so let me compensate: If Martin is considered "less black", it's NOT because his parents went to Harvard and he went to a white prep school. It is possible to have this profile and still relate to and reflect distinct black culture...

On another note, it's simply pathetic if black players (or black Stuyvesant students) are letting non-blacks call them the n-word.

Nov. 08 2013 11:25 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

Ouch Brian...not a finer moment of yours, with that "sensitivity & Stanford" comment.

Nov. 08 2013 11:22 AM
Ed from NYC

That was incredibly awkward listening to Brian try to link together race and homosexuality and being extra-sensitive and maybe having something to do with the California/Stanford pipeline.

Now we can't have this discussion without including the gay angle, right? Even though it has NOTHING, NOTHING to do with this. It's this sick need to make sure that angle is never left out when there are victims afoot.

Nov. 08 2013 11:21 AM
Karen from NYC

Had to hang up, but agree with the guy from the airport: hit back. I was bullied as a child, because I was very smart and a good student in a blue collar neighborhood in which smart girls were not respected. I learned to fight back -- with my mouth -- and I was, in fact, very good at humiliating bullies. If my sister or I came home and said, "he hit me," or "she hit me," we were told to go out the door and hit back. That is what I tell my son; don't run for a grown-up, but show the bully, who will take advantage of weakness, that he is not going to push you around.

Later, in grad school, I encountered more subtle forms of bullying. Yet learning to assert myself was the key; nobody else could protect me.

Same with employees -- if your employer is treating you badly, find out your legal rights (if any) and don't be afraid to assert them. They who do not defend themselves are soon out the door.

I am a really nice, friendly, non-aggressive person. But people know -- right from the beginning -- that anyone who tries to exploit me is not going to be a happy camper. Bullies are weak people who are driven to take advantage of what they view as weaknesses in others. Of course, what the bully sees as a weakness is not really a weakness - not when the target is dealing with normal people. When dealing with a bully, however, that target is dealing with a sociopath. The answer to a bully should be, figuratively or literally, a good punch in the mouth.

Nov. 08 2013 11:18 AM
Tom from New York

Nick... some of those "strangers" want to kill you. Anyway... The segment is on adult bullying. Not your take on BLS programming. Sorry if the topic offends you.

Nov. 08 2013 11:14 AM
John A

Can attest to having been bullied, to punching back, once, and magically having no problems after that punch, except minor skinning on the nuckles. Bully became a friend. I was the nerd type too. I may have been pretty wise on what to take and what to not take however...

Nov. 08 2013 11:14 AM
Nick from UWS

This caller is right on target - God bless him.

Nov. 08 2013 11:14 AM
Katie from Huntington

Dynamite? Nice. Just how I want to raise my son. NOT! What a role model.

Nov. 08 2013 11:11 AM
BK from Hoboken

Wow- Brandon Marshall - well said.
I think the worst part of this is that is was apparently directed by the team coaching staff. Apparently they have zero idea on how to motivate different people. Some people respond differently. Obviously Martin is a cerebral guy, and this stupid high school type antics were not going to motivate him. Fail on the coaching staff.
As for "being a man" and that crap- grow up. You treat people the way you want to be treated.

Nov. 08 2013 11:11 AM
foodaggro from Brooklyn

This entire useless segment was just made worthwhile by the caller from the airport who blew up the bully's car back in the 60s. Awesome!

Nov. 08 2013 11:10 AM
Robert from NYC

OMG, DYNAMITE!!! LOL. Good for you.LOL

Nov. 08 2013 11:10 AM
Nick from UWS

We're a people that have no problem murdering strangers with drones, but cry about rough behavior in an adult football team. A psychotic country. Pathetic.

Nov. 08 2013 11:06 AM
Nick from UWS

Waaaahhh, they're EXCLUDING ME. Waaaaaah, they're making me FEEL AWFUL. In football. These complaints are concerning football player. Jesus Christ, what is happening to American people?

Nov. 08 2013 11:02 AM
Tisha from NJ

This is not the first time this has gone public. Not long ago there was another incident of a new player being forcibly picked up and dumped into a hot tub. It was videotaped on another player's cellphone and tweeted. And while I was horrified by the indicent itself, the nfl response--and even the player who was hazed--was that the problem was that the video was tweeted and made public, not that a player was dumped in a hot tub!

Nov. 08 2013 11:01 AM
Nick from UWS

What a completely dopey discussion. Football IS organized bullying, for Christ's sake, that's the whole basis of the game. You don't want to get hurt, don't play football. What is the matter with all these people; why is everyone delusional?

Nov. 08 2013 11:00 AM
ebun from Brooklyn

I moved to the US as a 13yr old and with my thick Nigerian accent, I was put through hell by bullies in Union NJ. When I decided (my brothers and I ) to fight back, it was over. Bullying sometimes builds character, I am stronger for it. I don't know, I feel like we are becoming soft, we are banning dodgeball, getting too emotional, too PC. A guy bullies you, smack him, even if he beats you, there is honor in wearing a beating. But we are becoming culturally soft. (Ed Randell wrote a book about this I think).

Nov. 08 2013 11:00 AM
Larrylarr from NYC

I would be willing to bet Incognito has a same sex infatuation with Martin.

Nov. 08 2013 11:00 AM
genejoke from Brooklyn

If the bully was incognito, how did they figure out who did the bullying??

Nov. 08 2013 10:58 AM
genejoke from Brooklyn


Nov. 08 2013 10:55 AM
Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn

Bullying is wrong. Period. No excuses, no tolerance, NO bullying.

Nov. 08 2013 10:55 AM

Woah, jocks are bullies? I for one am SHOCKED to learn this! Next you'll be telling me that nerds can't get laid!

Nov. 08 2013 10:17 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

This story has still not fully developed. Incognito, may not have been the psycho the media initially made him out to be.

It probably has less to do with race but more with class and personality. Many jocks are suspicious of anyone with an intellectual background.

Black players supposedly "allowing" Incognito to use the N word, is sad but not surprising. Just walk in front of Brooklyn Tech or Stuyvesant, when school lets out and you'll hear asian and white kids comfortably dropping the N bomb in front of their black friends.

Nov. 08 2013 09:45 AM

How many times during this discussion will it be recognized that "we don't have all the facts yet" as a prelude to rendering judgement as if the facts were known? But hey there's a show that has to say something.

Nov. 08 2013 05:29 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

What a great distraction for another BLS fluff segment on the absurd .... (while ignoring Obama's admission of LYING to the American public in order to advance his personal career) .... it conveniently combines bullying, racism, victimhood, anti-NFL sentiment, bad white guys etc. - all necessary resentments of the current puff culture outrage - Grrrrr!!
This is a parody, right?

Nov. 08 2013 04:43 AM
brad davers from Canarsie

men are often disquieted by those vulnerable within their own gender. it's sad but well beyond predictable , that we will seek to demean or minimize the target of abuse. "If it were me, I would have put a beat down on.....blah blah nauseam". I think that the public shaming of other men invariably necessitates too many of us, having to get in touch with the need to appear strong and powerful in the world. a very real exigency in many ways; especially, for those of us who neither have gravitas, nor a physically imposing presence.

Nov. 08 2013 02:38 AM

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