The word “team” is one of the greatest words in the English language.
It comes in just behind God, family and country. President Franklin D. Roosevelt once stated, “People acting together as a group can accomplish things which no individual acting alone could ever hope to bring about.”
I hesitated to voice my opinion about the unfortunate situation being played out between two Miami Dolphin teammates, Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin. Hazing and bullying at any level will never work to build a cohesive team structure.
I experienced coaching at four separate high schools as well as serving as a graduate assistant in college – only once did I encounter a coach who encouraged that type of behavior. He lasted as head coach for only two years. In my 29 years of coaching football, the teams I was involved with had only five losing seasons – and two of those seasons occurred under his leadership.
Both of the Miami players acted worse than a kindergartner on a playground. It is a real problem when someone feels the necessity to use racial slurs, make death threats to a person’s family and communicate with foul and degrading language.
It appears that the Miami Dolphins organization went about developing a culture that focused on smack talk and total disrespect for the individual. Both of the involved players seemed to communicate in some sick way, which was obviously encouraged by the locker-room culture.
Some football players live their lives as if they are entitled to whatever they choose. Both of the pro players needed to be placed in a grade school time-out!
I agree with former coach Mike Ditka – both players should be banned from the team followed by an evaluation of the coaching staff. A bully believes they are capable of intimidating someone else into a different mindset. Most bullies are insecure with a low self-esteem.
Positive team cultures are built on common trust between players. Team success occurs when teammates are confident that they have one another’s back in any given situation. Team success leads right into individual success. The two go hand in hand.
I always have my eye on who either gets it or does not get it. A bully has no clue about motivation. Any coach who allows bullying on his team has no business in a leadership role. He could not lead a mule to a drink of water, let alone lead other people.
I do not go along with the media brushing it off as an allowable culture in the game of football. Fun in a team environment is for a rookie player to buy doughnuts for the team or to sing a fight song at a team dinner. That is a far cry from racial slurs and death threats.
It should never be accepted as a way of life in football. Most athletic leaders and coaches work tirelessly to promote team camaraderie and are fully aware that the road to success can only be through a positive environment. Society has gotten into a mode of no verbal face-to-face contact – too much electronic contact through texting, Twitter, Facebook, etc.
Sometimes you just need to look into someone’s eyes to have a meaningful conversation. It is a lot more difficult to make a racial slur in person than it is to pound out words on a computer or phone. Both of these football players are supposed to be big, bad football players, when in reality all they have become is one big joke to our society.
• The Blue Springs High School football family lost one of its members last Sunday when Joey Butler passed away. Joey was an inspirational leader for many young people. He was a positive example for everyone who came into contact with him.
His love of high school football fit right in with the Blue Springs community. Endless people have share stories of how Joey helped them, both on and off the field. I really loved his “TOP BUTTON” slogan. If the leadership at the top does things right the rest of the buttons will fall in line.
I plan to share that slogan with others going forward into the future. Joey’s M.O. was definitely an ultimate team player. Success in life is not measured by how much you have or how famous you are, but instead it is about how many lives you impacted in a positive way. Based up that theory, Joey Butler was a tremendous success.
• My quote of the week comes from legendary football coach Knute Rockne: ”The secret of winning football games is working more as a team, less as individuals. I play not my 11 best, but my best 11.”
Tim Crone, a William Chrisman High School graduate, is a former activities director and coach for Blue Springs High School and is a host of a weekly radio show, “Off the Wall with Tim Crone,” on KCWJ (1030 AM) 5-6 p.m. every Thursday. He writes a weekly column for The Examiner. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org