Professional: A Lost Standard?

Doping in cycling, hazing in the NFL… It sounds to me like some of the people identified as “professionals” are actually the exact opposite.

After I wrote about bullying, I was pointed to the current story about the issue surrounding the Miami Dolphins.

In case you haven’t heard, the NFL is investigating the Miami Dolphins football team after bullying allegations came out about offensive lineman Richie Incognito.

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I don’t agree that this is necessarily bullying, I think that bullying has become a buzzword and so the public is accepting it; what I do think this is though is juvenile hazing.

In the CBS story linked, rookie hazing in the NFL is brought up like it’s nothing, as if duct taping a person to a goal post is normal and ok. The problem with that mentality though is how the NCAA would come sweeping in if that were to be brought up from a college campus, but is seen as perfectly decent in the professional level of athletics.

If it isn’t ok for a 20-year-old on a college team, fraternity, or marching band then why should it be ok for a grown man to do the same thing?

Incognito was reprimanded by coaches and no longer has a job with the Dolphins, but the rest isn’t acceptable either.

This brings me to my point: None of it is professional, so why do we call these people pros?

The most appropriate definition I found was from Merriam-Webster:

(1) characterized by or conforming to the technical or ethical standards of a profession
(2) exhibiting a courteous, conscientious, and generally businesslike manner in the workplace

So with a certain standard of professionalism that everyone else is expected to uphold, why are athletes skating by?

I mentioned doping in cycling earlier because a great movie about Lance Armstrong comes out Friday.

Velo News, in addition to the Armstrong movie coming out, put out a great piece on the issues that come with admitting that the standard has been dropped. The outstanding story being the catch that Ryder Hesjedal has found himself in now that he has admitted to doping, despite a seemingly ungrateful governing body that is as much to blame for the level of doping as the riders.

So with double standards pervading athletics at every level, a “professional” atmosphere that seems to catch athletes in a “damned if you do damned if you don’t” mentality, I ask: What do we want, and how will we get it?

I don’t support hazing, having experience in marching bands and a collegiate fraternity, but when it comes to doping in sports, it’s hard to blame athletes that do it if doping has become a part of the culture.

Ethically, it all seems wrong, but the consequences have to be real if we want a real level of professionals.

Bullying: Everybody Cares Until it Happens

The word that has jarred people the past few years, the one that creates a stir in any conversation about the way people are treated, is bullying.

But what does anyone actually do when it comes to handling the issue?


I would encourage you to take a look at to find the laws and statutes that exist in your state, but note what the repercussions of bullying are.

Because the examples that I have both come from North Carolina, that is the state I looked at.

According to Stop Bullying, in North Carolina bullying has both laws and policies to protect victims of bullying, but when you look for the consequences of bullying, everything falls to the responsibility of the institution where the bullying occurs.

Essentially, the whole process is muddled with words so that you can feel “safer” about going to school, or sending your child to school, but there is no legitimate process for handling the issue.

Since I told you I had two examples, I’ll start with a personal one.


Interestingly enough, North Carolina believes that cyberbullying doesn’t occur between adults, because nobody has ever been stalked or harassed online after they turned 18, and so the law only applies to minors.

The exchange above happened between a person that would go on to represent our school on a national level, despite a number of issues with other students. Since she carried that kind of report, when we found ourselves in her path, we reported it to student affairs and the national organization that the student belonged to.

The response from the university…

That we should leave her alone and avoid any campus activity that she would likely attend.

Again, she virtually ran the university’s student government, so basically we were being told not to participate in anything. Because we were the problem.

Demoralized that the university would slap us in the face, it’s hard to believe that anyone actually takes bullying seriously unless it’s happening to them. But what should a victim do when the powers-at-be choose to do nothing?

That brings me to my second example.

Paige and I were in North Carolina after our honeymoon and I was told a story about an employee whose son was being bullied, and she has had to miss work because of it.

Essentially, her son was being harassed in class by some other punk that wouldn’t leave him alone. The student complained to the teacher, who did nothing, until his mom had to complain to the school. The teacher separated the two boys for a few weeks, and because the issue had calmed down, move the two students so that the bully was sitting directly behind the victim.

After a few days of being harassed again, the victim took justice into his own hands and hauled off and punched the kid.

Of course, the victim was reprimanded for getting violent, but what was he supposed to do?

Now, after hitting the guy that was bullying him, his mom has had to go back into school to discuss her son’s behavior. Oh, and the teacher put the bully in the seat behind the victim so that he can go right back to harassing the kid because he knows if the victim hits him again the victim will be suspended.

Tell me how any of that makes sense.

What type of society are we trying to build where we fake emotion, thanks Facebook, and tell someone they are protected until they’re an actual victim?

What is it that we’re going for when the victim is always wrong?

I don’t have answers to either of those questions, but as a kid that got beat up in sixth and seventh grade, I’m curious to know what your suggestions are.

My bullies stopped after I hit them back, but what do you do when that doesn’t end it?