How to Stop the Miami Dolphins from Playing to Lose

Playing to Lose

The Miami Dolphins are playing to lose and a lot of people don’t like it. The Dolphins have all but tacitly admitted they can’t make the playoffs this season and traded away their best players hoping to finish in last place and get good draft choices. This is not the first time we’ve observed such behavior and its been at least somewhat successful in the past.

The Houston Astros, Chicago Cubs, and Philadelphia 76ers have all employed the playing to lose strategy with varying degrees of success over the last decade. Many argue there is little that can be done to stop such behavior despite the obvious negatives associated with it. Mainly the players lose years out of very short careers and the fans have to sit through seasons of inept play with the hopes of victory at some undefined future point which sometimes never comes.

The way to change this behavior is simply to understand why it is being implemented in the first place. Teams try to lose because they will get better draft choices. The way sports leagues work in Canada and United States, but nowhere else in the world, is through drafts in which players are enslaved, that is say drafted, by a single employer and cannot negotiate with any other team. The worst teams draft first and the best teams draft last. I wrote about why the system is a Libertarian Hell already, please take a look at that article to understand the immorality of the system. Today I’m going to talk about how abolishing it also eliminates playing to lose.

Well, honestly, I don’t really have to do much explaining. If all players joining the professional ranks for the first time are allowed to shop their services to whatever team is willing to meet their price, there is no playing to lose. With a salary cap imposed by the various leagues it is up to each team to give the best contract to the player who will help her or his team the most. It’s done this way in college and across the world, so don’t fill my comments with suggestions on how it won’t work.

The best running back would certainly be incentivized to sign with a team that is in need of a running back and vice versa. This is the way it works for every other person first entering the work force and for all other businesses in the world.

Don’t like teams playing to lose? The solution is simple and ethically right. Win and win.

Tom Liberman

Hazing Can Be a Good Thing

Rite of Passage

Hazing is in the news lately with a plethora of stories about the Miami Dolphins football team and in particular the incidents between Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin.

There are a lot of opinions about who is in the wrong in that particular case. What I want to talk about is the real purpose of hazing and how it clearly got out of control with the Dolphins.

What is Hazing?

One of the major issues is that people confuse the term hazing with the idea of Rite of Passage. Most hazing is really just Rite of Passage ceremonies gone out of control. When hazing is done properly as a Rite of Passage it serves a useful and productive purpose.

When someone joins an organization there are already established veterans of that group in positions of leadership. There is a clear delineation between those who have already worked for an organization and those who are newcomers. This is most clearly seen in groups that are exposed to dangerous situations, particularly the military.

These Rites of Passage tend to be modestly painful and somewhat humiliating but are on the whole affirming in nature. It means that a newcomer to an organization has successfully joined and is welcome as a full-fledged member.

When does it go Wrong?

So, where does it all go wrong and become hazing? How does a bully and sadistic person like Incognito get into a position where he can satisfy his sick urges by hurting other people? I’m not here to argue about who is right and who is wrong in the Dolphins situation, there are no winners there. Incognito is a sick man and his history of behavior throughout life shows it. Martin was too timid and let things get out of hand. What I want to talk about is how Incognito and men like him are allowed to live out their violent pseudo-sexual fantasies without being curbed by rational men.

The Rite of Passage is a good thing but it attracts bad people. People who enjoy hurting others. People who enjoy humiliating others. People who get a perverse sexual satisfaction from being in a position of power and abusing those under them. People like Incognito. If you’ve ever seen the movie Dazed and Confused the opening scenes illustrate the difference starkly and the entire movie studies this subject with great clarity.

The sociopath and borderline personalities of the world are attracted to the hazing process; of this there is no question. However, as long as veteran leadership is alert to such individuals and takes active steps to curb them, then the Rite of Passage will remain a positive experience. When leadership fails then disaster follows.

How to Stop it going Wrong

Leadership, or coaches and veterans, on the Dolphins bear the brunt of the responsibility for what happened. They willfully chose to allow it to happen. They can claim ignorance all they want, it’s their job to be leaders. It’s their duty to help the rookies and young players become better men. It’s their responsibility to curb men like Incognito who are what they are and always will be so.

This failure of leadership, this utter abrogation of responsibility, this moral and ethical indifference is what allowed everything else to happen. Good people must always stand up when they see abuses of power. Good soldiers, good police officers, good football players, good college students. When this happens the sick people who relish in pain and abuse cannot succeed. The police officers who abuse suspects, the military officers who torture prisoners, the prison guards who abuse inmates, the teachers who abuse students, and all of their ilk cannot destroy the lives of those under their control.

If you are a leader, be a leader. A lot of people’s lives depend on you.

Tom Liberman