Duke University Sports Psychologist: Hazing Begets Bullying

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November 6, 2013 Wednesday
NEWS; Pg. 1A
289 words
Even big guys can be bullied
Erik Brady and Jim Corbett, @ByErikBrady and @ByJimCorbett, USA TODAY Sports

Offensive linemen, usually the most anonymous players on a football field, emerged this week as the unlikely centerpieces of a national conversation on where the line is that separates hazing from bullying.

Duke professor of sports psychology and sports ethics Greg Dale thinks that is exactly the wrong question. He says hazing begets bullying -- that there isn't so much a line between them as a line connecting them.

"The reality is that hazing creates a hierarchical power structure by which some people are made to feel less powerful than other people," Dale tells USA TODAY Sports. "Hazing makes bullying more likely to take place: 'Now I have power over you and you're supposed to be subservient to me.'"

Hazing and bullying often are associated with school cafeterias and college fraternities. The events in Miami suggest 300-pound linemen can be bullied just the same as 60-pound middle schoolers.

Miami Dolphins tackle Jonathan Martin left the team last week for emotional reasons after an incident in the team's cafeteria. The team at first dismissed the role of bullying, only to reverse course hours later and suspend Richie Incognito for conduct detrimental to the team after Martin's representatives turned over evidence, including a voice mail featuring racially charged threats. The NFL is investigating.

Incognito is 319 pounds, white and in his ninth NFL season. Martin is 312 pounds, biracial and in his second season. They lined up side by side for much of this season, in which the Dolphins have given up an NFL-worst 35 sacks.

Ex-quarterback Rich Gannon says Incognito should have built up his teammate. "They've given up more sacks than any team in football. You wonder why? Because they don't even like each other."

November 6, 2013

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