Sunday, November 21, 2004

Enough is enough!

Putting away politics for this post. . .

I'm a huge sports fan. I have tried my hand at just about every sport that is somewhat popular here in America, and to this day I won't pass up on the opportunity to play a game of hoops or run around a diamond or whatever--I just love sports. And I've got a son who's at the age that is perfect to introduce him to sports--I remember playing my first games of basketball with my brothers at the same age that my son is today. I would like nothing better than to be able to play sports with him in the afternoon, working on some skills and what not, and then be able to watch some games on TV that night, just to kind of reinforce whatever we had worked on that afternoon. . .

. . .and therein lies the problem. I am apalled by what is going on in the sports world with regards to sportsmanship to such a degree that I can not, in good conscience, spend family time with my boy "watching" sports. Whether it be the fairly-innocent (but still unnecessary) celebrating that accompanies just about any play of significance, or the totally disgusting violence that has marred two major sports events this weekend, there is nothing "sporty" about how sports is being played at the highest levels these days.

Listen, I know that little scrapes between players in a physical game (basketball, unfortunately, is one of those) are common and shouldn't be cause for concern--but there's a big difference between a little scrape and a brawl that ends up with genetically-gifted (in the physical sense) men squaring off with Joe Blow from down the street. There's a big difference between a good, hard foul and an act of provocation. There's a big difference between "getting in your opponent's head" and being disrespectful. And there's a big difference between a "rivalry" and a fight. . .or at least there should be. But these days in sports, those lines of distinction are getting crossed a lot, and the aftermath is enough to make a guy like me turn off sports.

How would I deal with this problem? Simple: get the law involved. Everybody involved in the Pacers/Pistons and South Carolina/Clemson debacles were adults in the eyes of the law--prosecute them as such. In the case of the NBA game, that means that every player that went into the stands and ended up actually engaging the crowd goes to trial for assault--and given their physical stature, I might even try to get assault with a deadly weapon. (Hey, a single forceful punch from a guy with muscular arms and a greater reach than most heavyweight boxers should be considered deadly--all that torque translates to an awful lot of power!). That also means that whatever clown threw the cup full of liquid at Ron Artest as he was sitting at the scorer's table should be tried for assault, too, as well as a handful of other "fans" that were doing their best European soccer match impersonations on Friday night. And of course, the Pistons organization has got to see recriminations for not providing visiting players a safe arena in which to display their skills. Some might think that holding the Pistons accountable to some degree is a little overboard (considering that Artest's entrance into the crowd served as the instigation for the altercations that ensued), but this incident deserves some legally unprecedented treatment. Every party that had a hand in the happenings of that night should be held accountable to some degree, and clearly the security at the Palace was lacking.

As for the USC/Clemson game, that melee went from a little after-play "push and shove" to a massive, bench-clearing, field-covering brawl. The "push and shove" will happen in football, and fortunately it doesn't normally get too much beyond that. But yesterday it did--and all those players are over 18. The "major fighters" should not get "protection" simply because they were in uniform--what they did was out of bounds even in terms of a physically violent game like football. They should be kicked off the team (and have their scholarships not just pulled, but rescinded effective the date of entrance into the school) for bringing embarassment to the institution OF HIGHER LEARNING that they represent, and they should be tried by the law. And I can't be sure, because the coverage has been so skittish, but I think I saw one player swinging around his helmet--how about an attempted murder charge on that one?

Seriously, folks, the over-riding rules of society have got to apply even in athletic arenas--otherwise you'll have this group (again, I must stress how physically gifted these players are) of individuals who believe they can get away with anything. Think that's a stretch? Tell me there isn't a personal defense lawyer out there who wouldn't try to use the intensely physical nature (and now apparent blurring of the lines between civil and barbaric) of the athletic arena as a defense for an athlete defendant who happened to forget that physical altercations just shouldn't happen in day-to-day "normal" life. You can't do it, because you know that this would appear to be a "no-brainer" defense technique. Now I realize that 99.9% of "super" athletes (for the sake of argument, folks whose livelihood will/does actually "depend" on their ability to play sports) would never end up in a position like the one just hypothesized . . .but we need to put laws and processes in place that grant law-abiding folks protections from (and for) 100% of our citizens. And given that sporting events are major crowd-gathering attactions throughout the land, protecting the people who enter into those crowds (whether as a player or a spectator) should be something that we, as a society, take seriously.

And as an aside: how I would love to see Steve Spurrier take the event on the field yesterday as cause for him to keep on the golf course for the next couple years rather than return to coaching. I think that is one way to ensure those players get what is coming to them. . .but since I haven't agreed with almost anything that Spurrier has done over the years, I am not holding my breath. . .


Blogger Michael said...

Oooh... That's eerie. Not at all surprising, but...

Nicely said. You know, if I, at all 5'6-1/2", actually throw a punch--even in self-defense--I'm subject to pretty harsh charges because of my training. Are you telling me that at 6"10", 250, Ron Artest doesn't create AT LEAST the same amount of power as I do?

11:14 AM  

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