Sports

It’s not been great.  My depression has been OK, but I’ve been dealing with a lot of anxiety.  That will be a post for another time.

Instead, I’m going to focus on something that I’ve been hearing and reading about a lot recently.  I’m a guy, and I’m a sports fan.  If I’m not listening to music in my car, I’m listening to ESPNRadio.  I also read SI and ESPN.  The big story, and one that now goes beyond the sports pages, is the situation in the NFL with the Miami Dolphins.  I used to be more interested in the NFL than I am now, but it is inescapable.

I’ll give a brief summary, if for some reason you’ve been not paying attention to any news for the past week.  Jonathan Martin, an offensive lineman for the Dolphins, left the team alleging that he was bullied by Richie Incognito, another offensive lineman, who has since been suspended.  I’ve pretty much heard every single opinion on what should have happened.  The general manager suggested that Martin should have punched Incognito.  Most players have suggested that this should have been handled in-house and not have any of the dirty laundry aired.

This is clearly a profession that does not understand mental illness, although, as usual, I’m hesitant to call it mental illness.  Maybe playing in professional sports requires a certain mindset, one fueled by machismo and testosterone.  It doesn’t matter whether it is American Football, Baseball, or any sport.  The tough guy image is the dominant one.  There are some players that don’t project that image, such as Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs, but most, particularly in the NFL are the chest-thumping type.  Bullying and harassment are probably commonplace.  It doesn’t really surprise me.

And likewise, the reaction of many fans doesn’t surprise me either.  Martin is seen as being “soft” or a “traitor”.  When does accepting the status quo in a such an environment make a person better?  Many former teammates have said that they were shocked by Martin leaving because they never saw him react negatively to the treatment that he received.  As I’ve mentioned before, from dealing with my own depression, the person tries to fit in and not show how bothered and upset they really are, instead suffering in silence.

In a room full of alpha males, I’m not surprised in the least.  It just goes to show how far society still needs to come to understand and deal with bullying in a positive and respectful manner.

And here’s a last thought:  What if Martin had checked himself into a hospital and instead committed suicide?  Would we still be talking about this the same way?

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