Tuesday, June 30, 2015

What the Dolphins' bullying saga teaches us about team culture

The Miami Dolphins' season appeared to be over after the Richie Incognito/Jonathan Martin incident. Now the team is in the driver's seat for a playoff berth. Dr. Joel Fish takes a look at what this saga says about team culture.

What the Dolphins' bullying saga teaches us about team culture

0 comments
Miami Dolphins guard Richie Incognito. (AP Photo/David Richard)
Miami Dolphins guard Richie Incognito. (AP Photo/David Richard)

Much has been written about the Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin situation that existed on the Miami Dolphins this season. At present, Incognito has been suspended from the Dolphins for behavior that has been described as bullying. Martin has taken an extended absence from the team for emotional reasons. 

It is unclear what exactly happened between these two professional football players in the Dolphins locker room and off the field during the past 2 years. The incidents have shed light, though, on locker room behavior that exists on many professional football teams. In fact, the “team culture” that seems to be common in professional football has also been found to be similar in other professional sports. 

The issue of locker room behavior is also one that is also relevant to youth sports, high school sports, and college sports. Team culture is often defined as what is expected and typical behavior among a group of athletes that are part of the same team. It is clear that team culture can often reinforce positive teambuilding behavior. It is evident, though, that just wearing the same team uniform does not guarantee that each player on the team will be treated with dignity and respect. 

Much of the anti-social behavior that is found in sports locker rooms is connected to the tradition of younger players “needing to pay their dues” to be part of the team. This can express itself in younger players having to carry the team equipment to and from practice or to entertaining the veteran players in a talent show. Many of these behaviors are considered fun by all members of the team. They can become bullying or hazing behaviors if they are physically, emotionally, or psychologically hurtful to a player. If this is the case, the player, or veteran players on the team need to have a mechanism to confidentially express their concern. 

It is interesting to note, however, that since the Dolphins’ incident with Incognito-Martin, the team has won several big games and the team is now in a position to make the playoffs. In my experience, after incidents like Incognito-Martin, a team can either go one of two ways. The team can become further divided and the team’s performance can be negatively affected. On the other hand, after a traumatic incident, teams can communicate, clear the air and pull together even tighter in order to achieve a team goal. 

In the Chinese language, the word for “crisis” is the same word for opportunity. The closest expression that we have in English is that there are two sides to every coin. A traumatic team incident can certainly be a crisis for a player or players on a team. If this is the case, there needs to be a mechanism to help these players. 

When an unfortunate incident happens to a player or team, sometimes there is a learning opportunity that can come about where valuable sport and life lessons can be learned that can be applied as a player, or ateam, tries to move forward. 


Read more Sports Doc for Sports Medicine and Fitness.

Director of The Center For Sport Psychology; Sports Psychology Consultant for 76ers & Flyers
0 comments
We encourage respectful comments but reserve the right to delete anything that doesn't contribute to an engaging dialogue.
Help us moderate this thread by flagging comments that violate our guidelines.

Comment policy:

Philly.com comments are intended to be civil, friendly conversations. Please treat other participants with respect and in a way that you would want to be treated. You are responsible for what you say. And please, stay on topic. If you see an objectionable post, please report it to us using the "Report Abuse" option.

Please note that comments are monitored by Philly.com staff. We reserve the right at all times to remove any information or materials that are unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane, indecent or otherwise objectionable. Personal attacks, especially on other participants, are not permitted. We reserve the right to permanently block any user who violates these terms and conditions.

Additionally comments that are long, have multiple paragraph breaks, include code, or include hyperlinks may not be posted.

Read 0 comments
 
comments powered by Disqus
About this blog

Whether you are a weekend warrior, an aging baby boomer, a student athlete or just someone who wants to stay active, this blog is for you. Read about our growing list of expert contributors here.

J. Ryan Bair, PT, DPT, SCS Founder and Owner of FLASH Sports Physical Therapy, Board Certified in Sports Physical Therapy
Brian Cammarota, MEd, ATC, CSCS, CES Partner at Symetrix Sports Performance
Ellen Casey, MD Physician with Drexel University Sports Medicine
Desirea D. Caucci, PT, DPT, OCS Co-owner of Conshohocken Physical Therapy, Board Certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist
Michael G. Ciccotti, M.D. Head Team Physician for Phillies & St. Joe's; Rothman Institute
Julie Coté, PT, MPT, OCS, COMT Magee Rehabilitation Hospital
Justin D'Ancona Philly.com
Peter F. DeLuca, M.D. Head Team Physician for Eagles, Head Orthopedic Surgeon for Flyers; Rothman Institute
Joel H. Fish, Ph.D. Director of The Center For Sport Psychology; Sports Psychology Consultant for 76ers & Flyers
R. Robert Franks, D.O. Team Physician for USA Wrestling, Consultant for Phillies; Rothman Institute
Ashley B. Greenblatt, ACE-CPT Certified Personal Trainer, The Sporting Club at The Bellevue
Brian Maher, BS, CSCS Owner, Philly Personal Training
Julia Mayberry, M.D. Attending Hand & Upper Extremity Surgeon, Main Line Hand Surgery P.C.
Jim McCrossin, ATC Strength and Conditioning Coach, Flyers and Phantoms
Gavin McKay, NASM-CPT Founder/Franchisor, Unite Fitness
Heather Moore, PT, DPT, CKTP Owner of Total Performance Physical Therapy, North Wales and Hatfield, PA
Kelly O'Shea Senior Producer, Philly.com
Tracey Romero Sports Medicine Editor, Philly.com
David Rubenstein, M.D. Sports Medicine Surgeon, Rothman Institute
Robert Senior Event coverage, Sports Doc contributor
Justin Shaginaw, MPT, ATC Athletic Trainer for US Soccer Federation; Aria 3B Orthopaedic Institute
Thomas Trojian MD, CAQSM, FACSM Associate Chief of the Division of Sports Medicine at Drexel University
Latest Videos
Also on Philly.com:
letter icon Newsletter