Flag on the Play: A quick criticism of the NFL bullying discussion

10 Nov

So I’ve been rather perplexed in the myriad of perspectives and discussions revolving around the Miami Dolphins and adult bullying, otherwise known as bullying. The parts of this conversation that leave me puzzled are the assertions that people who are large, muscular and physically intimidating are less likely to be bullied, and the bully and bullied appeared to be the best of friends (according to teammates).


First, when everyone in the room is physically intimidating it’s harder to be used as a gauge of dominance. In fact, it’s a rather negligible factor. I’m not sure why this has eluded those mentioning it, as though a 300lb muscular athlete is any less susceptible to the vices of small group dynamics, especially in a hyper-machismo, bro-tastic hazing microcosm.


Second, in patriarchal structure the idea that men aren’t bullied in friendships is quite frankly bullshit. The only thing smells worse is the suggestion that these men are “elites” in anything. The locker room model can breed camaraderie, teamwork, and interdependence. That is not to be confused with trust. Bullies exist in many forms, for many reasons. Even from personal experience, I can attest that sometimes friendship is an environment where bullying can thrive, like a functional, yet destructive relationship. The guise of friendship reduces the level of bullying, but much like this story and others teach: there is no way to ease out of such torment. You have to leave.


A culture of bullying is never acceptable.


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