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Dolphins Bullying Case Underscores Wider Sports Issue, Poll Says

The Miami Dolphins bullying case underscores a practice that exists throughout sports, according to people questioned in a poll by Seton Hall University.

In the poll, 53 percent of respondents said bullying was widespread in sports, while 25 percent said it was not. It also showed that 37 percent said bullying was part of a broader National Football League issue, while 13 percent said it was isolated to the Dolphins and 17 percent said it wasn’t a problem at all.

Jonathan Martin, a 24-year-old Dolphins offensive lineman, left the team Oct. 28 after enduring harassment “far beyond the traditional locker room hazing” for the entire 1 1/2 seasons he spent with the team, David Cornwell, his lawyer at the firm Gordon and Rees LLP in Atlanta, said on Nov. 6.

The Dolphins indefinitely suspended offensive lineman Richie Incognito a week later for conduct detrimental to the team after an expletive-filled voice message he sent to Martin became public. The NFL is investigating the case at the Dolphins’ request. Incognito has filed a grievance against the team over the length of his suspension.

Of those surveyed, 46 percent agreed with Incognito’s suspension, with 22 percent opposing it.

While the majority of respondents said bullying was a broader issue throughout sports, 43 percent said the attention the Martin-Incognito case has received would have no effect to help eliminate bullying, with 32 percent saying it would help.

The NFL investigation comes as the team is challenging for a playoff berth. With a 5-5 record after a 20-16 win against the San Diego Chargers four days ago, Miami is among nine teams within 1 1/2 games of the final playoff spot in the American Football Conference. The Dolphins next play Nov. 24 against the Carolina Panthers.

The Seton Hall telephone survey was based on responses from 808 people in U.S. between Nov. 18 and 20. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 1/2 percent.

To contact the reporter on this story: Michael Buteau in Atlanta at mbuteau@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net

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