The code in the NFL

by Russ Roberts on November 7, 2013

in Complexity & Emergence, Sports

The Incognito/Martin Miami Dolphins soap opera is, perhaps unsurprisingly, more complicated than it at first appears. Lydon Murtha, a former Dolphin lineman, opens a window into the weird, intense world of the football player. We should not have any illusions about the behavior of abnormally large men who make their living in a violent world. The result is a culture that is alien to most of us and perfectly normal to them. As an economist and student of emergent order, the part I found most interesting was his judgment of Jonathan Martin:

The most unfortunate thing about this situation is the consequence it will have on the careers of both men. Richie’s marked himself now as a racist and a bigot, and unfortunately that could be the end of it. Martin is on the opposite end of the spectrum, but no more likely than Incognito to return to the NFL if he wants. In going to the media with his problem, Martin broke the code, and it shows that he’s not there for his teammates and he’s not standing up for himself. There might be a team that gives him a chance because he’s a good person, but the players will reject him. They’ll think, If I say one thing he’s going to the press. He’ll never earn the respect of teammates and personnel in the NFL because he didn’t take care of business the right way.

Martin broke the code, the unwritten rules of how to behave. Here is Mike Munger on EconTalk talking about sports codes.

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