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Nov 8, 2013 8:28 AM by Ryan Haarer

UA Sports psychologist discusses Miami Dolphins bullying controversy

TUCSON- It's something of a tradition among teams. Some call it hazing but, sometimes lines are crossed, even getting someone as tough as a 310-pound tackle to speak up.

Miami Dolphins offensive lineman, Jonathan Martin, left the team last week after claiming fellow lineman Richie Incognito left him a racist and threatening voice mail message, and had been bullying him. Incognito was suspended.

The Dolphins' players who spoke out seem surprised.

"Richie is definitely not that type of guy," said defensive end Derrick Shelby.

"As far as him as a person, I got a lot of respect for Richie, I love playing with Richie, I wish he was here right now," said receiver Mike Wallace.

Whatever the case may be it's a reminder that words can often hurt more than an NFL caliber tackle, especially for players new to the team.

"When you think about what hazing is and what hazing does, you got to ask yourself, in what ways is it productive or conducive to success. And there just isn't any," said Scott Goldman, Director of Clinical and Sports Psychology at the University of Arizona.

Bullying can happen in many different ways and it's not confined to middle schools and football fields. it can happen at work too.

"They could retreat, they could become less productive, they could become more withdrawn, they could do things that harm themselves because they just don't have the right kind of skill set to handle it," said Goldman.

At UA, Goldman and other faculty use the step up program, teaching students to take initiative, to not be bystanders, to look out for each other, even when the numbers are against you.

"If I was working for that team or that organization I think I'd put a lot of emphasis in how do we re-identify ourselves, and how can we come together as a community and move forward."

Goldman also says it's all about trusting your moral compass. If you see something that you know is wrong, stand up for what you know is right. Push the community to make the change collectively.

As for Jonathan Martin, he checked into a hospital this week to be treated for emotional distress. The NFL now has an attorney looking into any work-place misconduct to see exactly how it treats individuals within the organization.

Incognito has not made any comments, or issued any statements.

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