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USF, Augustana Football Teams Don’t Tolerate Bullying, Hazing

Jonathan Martin, Richie Incognito, Miami Dolphins
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The story between Miami Dolphins offensive lineman Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin has taken its twist turns over the last week with new information raising new questions every day. Incognito was suspended indefinitely for conduct detrimental to the Dolphins franchise. The eight-year offensive guard sent racial text messages and voice messages to Martin, and Martin has since left the team.

The buzz that surfaced around Miami created a conversation around the country in locker rooms and how teams handle bullying and hazing. The University of Sioux Falls and Augustana football teams do not tolerate either of them, and both try to create a positive culture on and off the field.

Augustana head football head coach Jerry Olszewski instills the idea of respect into his players, and tells every player that they are equal no matter if they are a starter, back-up or freshman.

“Your joy is playing on the field. The best kids play, but outside of football, everyone is the same trying to be the best. We are all equal, and want all our players to be the best as human beings, students, and athletes.”

The Vikings try to maintain a positive locker room experience for all its players. As a first-year head coach, Olszewski brought in an open-door policy, where his players can come into his office and talk about football, academics, and their faith.

With his team, Olszewski leads devotions, and his players have even began to take charge and lead them as well. Olszewski must be doing something right, too. The Vikings football program haven’t lost any freshman in 2013, compared to last year when the Vikings lost 50% of its freshman.

Olszewski’s success in creating a positive locker room culture has been based off of respect.

“Guys don’t think they are better than each other. They respect each others similarities. They have to respect their teammates regardless of background, and race. It all comes back to respect.”

A few blocks South at USF, the Cougars try to do the same.

Head coach Jed Stugart says all the freshman and seniors have lockers together, and he has never been one to believe in freshman carrying seniors helmets and shoulder pads.

“Coaches need to be on top of, if you have an environment that even resembles hazing. There’s fun things like traditions that teams do, like if it’s in the lunch room and freshman have to sing their fight song in high school. Those things can be fun because they are team building. I think there are things that are team building and they help freshman get accepted on teams that coaches monitor and you are using that as team building. But the moment that coaches get off in monitoring, and there’s behind the scenes stuff that happens that maybe people say are traditions, then you are opening yourself up for the potential of bullying.”

Stugart shares that USF wouldn’t allow someone like Incognito to come into the program, and if they do, they help those kids feed into a positive locker room environment.

“We’ve had kids come in here that are getting restarts in our program, but we’ve also chosen to mentor those kids and understand that none of that will be tolerable here. So, you have to be selective about who you allow on your team, and the moment you sniff a possibility that  stuff like that’s happening, you have to address it. We just don’t create the environment here where our kids know right off the bat, that it’s not tolerable.”

The Miami Dolphins situation involving Incognito and Martin was an issue that shined light on the topic of bullying and hazing, and hopefully, it made the issue become a prominent issue. This issue needs to be addressed by organizations, coaches, teachers, parents, and employers to protect its students, players, and employees.

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