I strongly believe that pro sports will become extinct if either of these 2 things happen (or both)
1. They declare the draft illegal, meaning the worst teams never have access to the best new players. Why would anyone want to go to a small market team or to a bad team? It is the only thing that keeps sports going is the "hope" that each year carries, especially in the NFL where at least one team goes from first to last every season. Hope has been what has sold out the Ralph in the last 15 years. Hope is what will sell out the Ralph next year too.
2. Some secrete society within said sports renders so much hatred that they are forever hurt in Public relations and are unable to recover. A recent one was Vick coming back. Some thought the backlash of pet lovers could be so severe that they'd force him to retire. It never happened.
But, it could this time. There is no red hot topic hotter right now then Bullying. It is a plague. I will admit that I have been on both sides, been bullied in grade school and the bully in high school (for a very short time until I realized that I became what I hated) after I filled out. What people don't realize is that it is different now. Here is how:
For those who were bullied in school, you could go home and escape it till the following day. That is no longer true. Now, the second school ends, and you get off of the bus, you get it on facebook twitter, instanstagram etc. There is never a moment where you are free from being harassed at some time. Picture if the most annoying powerful person at work could contact you at all times without repercussions? I read a story of a girl who killed herself and those who tormented her MADE FUN OF HER IN THE COFFIN. Imagine it never ends. Remember the old saying "kids are cruel" well it is 100000000000x worse today b/c the kids endure it 24/7/365+. Imagine you are bullied. You get it at school, after school on social network, and finally in your nightmares. When do you break the cycle?
To me, it is pretty obvious that Jonathan Martin got to feel the hopelessness that I just described above. Bullying is far different then hazing or pulling a practical joke. I could get into hazing as another problem, but, most of it is innocent, and at least Fred Jackson knew the kid had issues and just tied him to the goal post. It's not like they stripped him down and put women or men also stripped down, in bed with him, and that happened to someone not that many years ago.
Many of these athletes don't have great coping mechanisms. And they don't take well to being the brunt of the joke. I image Jonathan Martin to be such a person. But, the real problem here is what was he supposed to do? Here is the truth:
He couldn't punch out Ritchie. That would be the worse thing he could do. First off, he'd be fined and cut for starting the fight, even if he didn't. What lesson is that anyways? Second, he couldn't fight him b/c one or the other may very well have ended up dead (2 men 300+ pounds each really going at it = really bad outcome). Was he supposed to seek vengeance like in a slasher movie or bring a gun "to show him to back off"? Again, he would have paid the crime for his retaliation.
To further complicate matters is how his own coaches might have been behind it "to toughen him up (oddly enough what my tormentor told me when I stood up to him)" and that is BS. From what does he need to be toughed up from? His own team mate? For those who say he is ostracized, well, he was before too when no one would sit with him. I am sorry, but, you wouldn't tolerate that at work, so why should he have to?
The only option was to check himself in to get himself right mentally. And that is sad that as a grown man, he felt such despair that he came to that conclusion. He is the poster boy for what can happen if you are bullied as an adult. It happens all the time. We watch our weekend warriors to escape from life, not be reminded of it. Now, as the battle lines are drawn and the players take sides, those bullied will side with Martin. And that is the real issue here. Once we, the fans, have to take sides in realism, the league suffers far more. We don't watch football for reality. Yet, now, the NFL is being forced to endure the most heinous of crimes that plague our young, bullying.
I am not gonna debate whether a one time hazing or joke is okay, I don't know, but, I am sure if Martin felt as if it was a one time thing, or that the nightmare would end on X date, he would have endured. There was no end for him. Luckily, instead of lashing out, or in, and making a really poor choice, he chose to take care of his psyche.
You can call him a coward or whatever, but, any other action and he's the villain (that leads to violence) and the victim is never, ever ever the villain before it escalates. You want to stop bullying, then the league should expel Ritchie and those coaches. Forever. If Martin doesn't make the peaceful choice that he makes, which is far tougher then taking the easy "smack him in the mouth" approach, then it would have been far worse for everyone.
Watch out NFL, this is your worse case scenario b/c in real life, people are dying, and no one ever wants to watch a football game, or any other sport, to be reminded of real life. You must eradicate this now, once and for ever and you must rid this as violently as a surgeon discards Cancer. And hope the rest of the body can survive this nightmare.