Forefront

Congratulations to the 2013 World Series winning Boston Red Sox!! I’m not saying this in hindsight by any stretch…once the championship matchup was determined, a conversation actually took place whereby I picked the Sox to win it in six!

Not that seven games would have been a surprise…but something told me they’d wrap up their third Series win in ten seasons a bit shy of October 31st. Two things are noteworthy here….(1) Major League Baseball is coming dangerously close to going deeper into the calendar—if they continue to stretch the playoffs, we’ll soon be watching players vying for the coveted Mr. November title as Mr. October will be a thing of the past!…(2)the fact that the Sox won period is the story—not the tired narrative of nearly one hundred years since they’d won the title at Fenway. Really?? While every team would love to win in their own backyard—winning a title will always, always trump where the title is won. If you don’t think so, take a look at the NFL—the Super Bowl changes locations yearly…when was the last time the winner took the Vince Lombardi in their hometown? Hmmm, as a trivia buff, I’ve managed to intrigue myself without even trying!

I’m also intrigued by the impact sports has on society at large. In much the same way as viewers had an unwritten rule that forbade rooting against the New Orleans Saints in the Super Bowl after Hurricane Katrina….many had taken notice of the energy the Sox and their fans exuded after the horrific bombing that took place at the conclusion of the city’s marathon in April. Without a doubt the Red Sox were not by themselves when it came to standing behind the city—as many of our country’s sports teams let the citizens of Bean City know they were not standing alone!

It is truly remarkable how ugly things can bring out the best in us…sports has a way of making us come together and bring to the forefront what we have in common versus what divides us. Not too long ago I was sitting in a national restaurant chain that prides itself on showing every game on any given Sunday…..seated at a long bar table were jerseys from the Eagles, Giants, Patriots, Ravens, Steelers, Redskins, Chiefs and Raiders alike…and aside from some occasional trash talking…conveniently timed around one team scoring and another not fairing so well…everyone got along! I remembered thinking–if we can do it, what, pray tell is wrong with Congress?!!

Conversely, sports can also bring to the forefront the far less attractive side of human behavior. When news broke earlier this week that a Miami Dolphins player, Jonathan Martin, had left the team due to bullying I was struck with both disbelief—surely, full grown men don’t behave this way!—and anger—apparently full grown men do behave this way!

Let’s be clear…rookie hazing—by all reported accounts, involves isolated pranks played on the incoming class of players…but behaviors meant to isolate an individual over a period of approximately a year and a half is nothing short of abuse!

The NFL and specifically the Player Development Division needs to come down on the guilty parties with the type of fury that makes a scorned woman’s look mild. I really don’t know who infuriates me more…a bully or folks that sit idly by and do absolutely nothing. In the case of the Dolphins…are we supposed to believe none of the powers that be—from the coaching staff to the executive office had a clue about the shenanigans of its players? And speaking of the players….if this isn’t a sign that they lack leadership in the locker room, I don’t know what is! Something tells me, words as simple as “knock it off” from a proven leader…let’s say a Peyton Manning type…would put an end to such cruel and asinine behavior in a nanosecond.

I remain hopeful that Jonathan receives the help he needs and returns to the game he loves…assuming he still loves it….stronger than ever! To that point, as national newscasts continue to broadcast this story I’m also hopeful that a dialogue on bullying is triggered not only between parents and children but adults who may be enduring the same in their workplace. After all, if it could happen to a 6 ft. something, 300 lbs plus NFL player it certainly can happen to anybody!

Leave a Reply