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home : columns : columns June 25, 2016

11/13/2013 9:57:00 AM
A win 40 years in the making for the Gophers

Joel Alvstad
Sports Editor

I know it's been a long time since the Gopher football team has seen any considerable success in the Big 10, but until Saturday, I didn't realize just how long.
During Saturday's pre-game on the radio, it was noted that the Gopher football team had gone 40 years since it had won four straight Big 10 games in the same season.
Saturday, that streak finally came to an end, as the Gophers defeated Penn State 24-10.
For as low as expectations were for the Gophers going into the season, it's safe to say they have been a pleasant surprise. The Gophers are currently 8-2 overall and 4-2 in Big 10 play. They still have challenging games against Michigan State and Wisconsin left.
But what would happen if, by some strange twist of fate, the Gophers were to win those last two games? By virtue of tiebreakers, it would be conceivable that the Gophers could win their division and play against Ohio State in the Big 10 championship game.
A win there, and the Gophers would be heading to the Rose Bowl for the first time in nearly 50 years.
And even if they win one of their last two games, it's conceivable that the Gophers could be playing in a bigger bowl game, possibly on New Year's Day.
Wouldn't that be something?
A culture of bullying?
In the past week, we've heard a lot about the behind-the-scenes world of professional football.
Yes, we all know it's a world of men playing a boys' game. But it goes way behind that. It's a world where perceived weakness is crushed out, one way or another. It's a world where hazing isn't just common, it's accepted as someone "paying his dues."
And it's a world where if you tiptoe around a very fine line, you're bound to cross that line.
In Miami, a player left the team and checked into a mental health facility, based on the treatment he received from fellow teammates.
You could call it hazing. You could call it bullying. You could call it harassment. Whatever you call it, it was causing Jonathan Martin to break down mentally, to the point that he felt it was better to leave the situation than to deal with it.
The main alleged perpetrator of this is currently-suspended Dolphins lineman Richie Incognito. Incognito has long had a reputation of being a dirty player - a reputation that goes back to his days at the University of Nebraska.
TV interviews with several Dolphins players gave the impression that nothing was wrong. A few went so far as to say that nothing should happen to Incognito.
The whole story may never be known for sure. But Martin's attorney and agent have stated that their client was bullied and harassed by multiple teammates.
That means that it's not only possible that Incognito is a bully and that his teammates knew about it, but it would stand to reason that some of the same ones who were interviewed on TV were in on it.
It also means that while management may be saying Incognito's playing days in Miami are over, it's equally likely that Martin's are as well.
And that, my friends, is a classic example of bullying. What starts with one person harassing someone perceived as weaker compounds to the point that multiple people are in on it. And people in authority either don't control it, don't punish the perpetrator or give both perpetrator or victim the same punishment.
Our society as a whole has been very slow to hold the bully accountable. Arguments against punishing the bully have ranged from "boys will be boys" and "girls will be girls" to "he's trying to toughen him up."
And until the NFL and society make an example out of people like Incognito, bullying will continue to be part of the NFL's culture, as well as ours.
Quick hitters
• It was another All-State season for former Windom resident Megan Norby, who helped lead Nevis to the Class A State Volleyball Tournament for the fourth straight season.
Joining Megan in the Nevis program this year was her older sister, former Eagle standout Danielle Norby, who was an assistant coach for the Tigers this season.
Megan finished her high school volleyball career with over 1,500 kills and 1,400 digs. She started for one season at Park Rapids before starting the past four seasons for Nevis.
• Former Eagle Lauren Miller led the Prior Lake High School volleyball team in kills this season and was second on the team in blocks.
• Former Eagle Danyel Post was among team leaders in kills for the Wadena-Deer Creek High School volleyball team this season.
• Former Mt. Lake athlete Beau Herrig is about to start his sophomore season on the men's basketball team at Ridgewater College in Willmar. Herrig is one of the top returning players for the Warriors.

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