Bullying: A New Level of Pain


I am a sports fan, a football fan, and after living in South Florida for 12 years, a bit of a Dolphin’s fan.  That may be changing.  My plan for this blog was to not use this forum to get too personal about things, but with the recent news about what has been going on within the Dolphin’s organization, I had to vent.  Where are we as a society that some people are defending Richie Incognito in any way shape or form on this?  Not only was this a workplace, but whether they like it or not, this was unacceptable and brutal behavior between two role models for our youth.  We as a society are dealing with a new bullying phenomenon that many adults today are unable to comprehend.

Today, many adults are, unfortunately, looking back on when they may have been bullied.  I am 41 and there were bullies in my schools.  We were called names or pushed, maybe even punches were thrown.  It was uncomfortable, but it was usually older kids picking on the younger kids and for the most part harmless.  It ended for most shortly after it started, and at that time, was a coming of age experience.

Today, on the other hand, bullying has gotten so evil and harsh that kids feel it is easier to commit suicide than to deal with this new extreme form of bullying.  This is a sad statement, and one that should reach parents deeply to their very core.  How are some of our kids becoming so aggressive in their hate for others who are different, that they can push them to suicide?  Or, on another level, make a grown man quit his job forfeiting the possibility of earning millions of dollars?  What have we become as a people…as a society?

Spending 5 years in the military, I have been through my share of hazing that easily could have been defined as bullying by higher ranking soldiers and sergeants.  The big difference was there seemed to be a purpose to most of it.  The purpose was to strengthen your mind or body to prepare you for battle, and everybody went through it.  And, no matter how many football players compare their job to going into battle, it never will be the same thing.  In the military, hazing was used to build a team.  The hazing and bullying we hear about today has no purpose, but to make one person feel weak while building up the personal ego of their tormentor.

I have often heard the answer to this issue is to punch the bully in the face.  I keep hearing “The victim, Jonathon Martin, was 320lbs he should have kicked his ass!”  Take a look at this Richie Incognito rant at a pool hall.  I can’t think of many people who would be throwing punches at someone that looks and acts like this around his “friends”!  Teammates and coaches knew this guy had drug and mental issues in the past.  Was no one watching out for him and his teammates?

The more news that comes out on this; the more it sounds like people in positions of power knew that many of these things were happening.  We do not yet know how much.  Regardless, we as humans need to take this as a wakeup-call and take a good look at today’s style of bullying.  It is a new more dangerous world, but should this behavior be anywhere in our current society, let alone in the very places we go for relief like our schools, the playground and now even NFL locker rooms!?!

Perhaps, it is time to look within ourselves and ask what are we creating and to what end?  Is this “win at all costs” truly worth the cost of our children and their childhood?  Have we become such a “Lord of the Flies” society, that the rich and powerful will beat those perceived as weaker into the ultimate submission?


2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil: The Actual Cost

Rio de Janeiro, Favela

Rio de Janeiro, Favela

Brazil is in the news again regarding the hosting of the 2014 World Cup.  The Brazilian equivalent of the Attorney General has filed papers to cease the funding of many projects that are directly related to the 2014 World Cup.  This is another issue to be added to a long list of concerns that FIFA (soccer’s governing body) must deal with to ensure a smooth tournament next summer.   Here in the US, these serious issues have seemed to slip through the cracks of our media outlets.  The demonstrations last summer sparked a bit of interest, but only as they seemed similar to the Arab spring uprisings.  We or the media quickly grew bored with this and moved on to other “more interesting” topics like Tea Parties and shutting down the government.  None the less, the issues that led to these demonstrations are still there, and many poor Brazilians will now be dealing with World Cup related issues for a long time to come.

A major issue for many of the poor is the Brazilian government’s use of Eminent Domain to seize homes for the benefit of the 2014 World Cup.   After all, if you need parking spaces for a month-long soccer tournament, it sounds totally reasonable to tear down an entire neighborhood!  Yet, that is exactly what is going on; whole neighborhoods are being destroyed to give Rio de Janeiro a face lift.  Many of its favelas will be torn down to build parking structures and simply to make the tourists feel safer (and perhaps a little less guilty look up at these shanties from their limos).  When Americans see these shanty towns, it seems like no big deal to bulldoze such squalor.  In reality, some of these people have lived in these homes for decades and created a true community within these favelas.  This sense of community will be irreplaceable since many of these people will be spread across the country to find new housing and jobs.  Buyouts have been offered, but this is little consolation to a family being thrown out of the only home they have ever known.

Another cause for alarm is public safety during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil.  Many of Brazil’s largest cities deal with the same safety and crime related issues as American cities.  Poverty so often leads to crime and gang violence.  Primeiro Comando da Capital, or PCC the largest drug organization in Sao Paolo has already threatened to make this a “World Cup of Terror”. Will those attending the games feel safe enough to frequent restaurants and clubs to spend their money into the economy to make all of this worthwhile, or will the fear of crime and even protestors (as we saw last summer) keep tourists in the hotels, or even worse in their home countries? These questions may not be answered until it is too late, and the games have begun.

Lastly, transportation will surely be a huge issue for the 2014 World Cup.  Transportation throughout Brazil can be sketchy at best with buses often nothing more than a VW van stopping and going along a route (my wife last month rode sitting next to a chicken in one last month!).  Trains are not commonly used and often very late.  Flight delays are often hours at a time and flights between many cities are not nearly frequent enough.  All of these transportation issues will need to be corrected prior to the games.  At least, these improvements may actually help the people of Brazil, if they are planning a tour of the 12 World Cup venues after the tournament ends!

These are just a sampling of the many issues the Brazilian people will l need to overcome and solve over the next year, and then hopefully master for the 2016 Olympics which will quickly follow.  As the 2014 World Cup gets closer, perhaps the American media will begin to take notice again to these challenges and human rights issues that come with a mammoth undertaking like hosting the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil.  It will be just be a few short months, before we find out who the real winners and losers of these games truly are.



Sports, Life and the Rest of It…

Eric Safarz - SportMystic

We are constantly asked “if you could do anything for a living, what would it be? What is your passion?” For many, this is easy to answer. Many people have known their whole life that they wanted to be a doctor or a chef or a teacher. Yet, there are others who the answers to these questions remain elusive. I am one of those lost souls. One who stumbled out of the Army and into a job to pay the bills. The job turned into a “career”, I suppose. It still pays the bills…most of the time. But, the more I thought about those questions, the more I kept thinking there must be something more. Something I would enjoy doing not just do.

So, I am going to give my own blog a try; sharing my opinions on sports and life. I am not necessarily hoping for this to lead anywhere, but perhaps to hone my skills as a writer and focus on things I am passionate about. I am sure there are others in my shoes, with an opinion on many topics but, without a place to voice them. Hopefully, this can be that spot.

Any hints or advice to blogging would be greatly appreciated  and I look forward to interacting with you!