Sports Ethics Insights Brawls should result in automatic ejection Bearings and brawls make pitchers and hitters look foolish, writes SI. com columnist Phil Taylor, but, more important, there is too much potential for injury. Taylor suggests adding two rules: (1) Any pitcher who hits a batter in the face or head is automatically ejected from the game. Intent doesn't matter. (2) Any player who joins a fight is automatically ejected from the game, suspended from the next, and fined. See "Dumb and dumber," Phil Taylor, SI.
com, June 23, 2003. MLB will use bully pulpit to discourage brawling Despite the spate of melees, writes USA Today's Rod Beaton, baseball doesn't see the need to employ the kind of fight-prevention rules that leagues such as the NBA and NHL have enacted over the years. For what MLB plans to do and what measures other leagues have taken, see "New wave of brawls concerns baseball," Rod Beaton, USA TODAY, June 23, 2003, and "How others handle fighting," USA TODAY, June 23, 2003, Page 8 C. Baseball's nonchalance about brawling questioned "The fact of the matter is," according to Deron Snyder, who writes for Southwest Florida's News-Press, "baseball virtually condones the tradition of batters charging the mound, players clearing the benches and relievers sprinting in from the bullpen.
In their heart of hearts, commissioner Bud Selig and his minions-and all of their predecessors-must secretly relish the occasional, mostly harmless, outbursts. They must believe it adds a certain machismo, an element of danger and excitement welcome by most fans." He opines that MLB "can stop them almost instantly and completely." How? Give any "joker" who steps foot outside the bullpen and anyone leaving either dugout an automatic, 20-game suspension. As for how to treat charging hit batsmen and plunking pitchers, see "Baseball, bash your brawlers," Deron Snyder, The News-Press, June 16, 2003. Stopping sports terrorism will require ethics cops Condemning sports terrorists, sports columnist Sam Donnellon writes, "Disguised as fans, almost always emboldened by liquor, they have managed with stupid and dangerous acts to frighten and endanger players, officials and fans, and to embarrass major cities worldwide. They need to be stopped. Now." As usual, when citizen indignity and disrespect prevail, we need to resort to legislation.
The proof is in what Donnellon urges: "Let's create laws that make baseball a spectator sport again, so those looking to relax with a beer and a dog can do so, so those of us who would like to take our children to a game don't have to sit in a special section." For his suggestions, see "The Sports Terrorists," Sam Donnellon, The Philadelphia Daily News, June 13, 2003. What does integrity go for? Reacting to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays' bargain signing of shortstop Julio Lugo, accused by Houston police of assaulting his wife Mabel Lugo, sports columnist John Romano debates the Ray's integrity and team ethics. See "Signing Lugo not the best of values," John Romano, The St. Petersburg Times, May 16, 2003. Greater accountability needed to solve spectator aggression "Sports organizations," says sportswriter Robert Lipsyte, "should take more responsibility for the increase in bad fan behavior before the majority of average, silent customers are driven away from the game." Urging that sports team executives and the advertisers and media that support them create a climate of toleration-one that makes spectator aggression an accepted part of the game, Lipsyte quotes Christian End, a social psychologist at the University of Missouri-Rolla: "Teams encourage fans to get involved because it sells tickets and products.
They refer to the football crowd as the '12 th man.' They call for noisy support. By activating a higher level of identity among their fans, they also help make the other team and its fans the enemy. In such a setting, a small group of fans will take it to the next level of aggression." For what can be done, what should be done, and what will happen if we do nothing, see "Team owners bear some blame for unruly fans," Robert Lipsyte, USA TODAY, May 7, 2003. Booze, bad boys and ballparks In separate incidents at the same ballpark, four ruffians ran onto the field, with the last tackling an umpire. Everyone agrees, this lawlessness must stop, but what has to happen to end it depends on who-and what-are at fault and who has the power-and the will-to stop it. Until then, ending it will be a matter of luck, not a stroke of genius.
~ Ed. The most provocative story we found comes from Randy Jones, sports editor of North Carolina's New Bern Sun Journal. Jones thinks that looking for moral outrage where double standards dominate and folks profit - at least indirectly - from sports violence is a wild goose chase. See "Fans are copying players," Randy Jones, The New Bern Sun Journal, April 17, 2003. For who should be held accountable (the media, for instance? ), see "Civic pride takes hit," Jay Mariott i, The Chicago Sun-Times, April 17, 2003. Also looking at the broadcast media's role, sports columnist Phil Mushnick writes: "ESPN's "SportsCenter," Tuesday night, solemnly reported the criminal behavior of the four young punks at that night's White Sox game...
Yet, that same day, ESPN anchor Dan Patrick appeared in a new promo with pro wrestling star "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, who portrays a beer-swilling, profane and insanely violent character for the enjoyment of the young male demographic... In the ESPN promo, Patrick, who has also lent himself to Coors beer ads, is seen smashing Austin with a folding chair. How clever. Especially given that pro wrestling is not a sport, what is ESPN's intent here? How does ESPN make shame-shame at the incivility of the young men at Tuesday's White Sox game while attaching itself to Stone Cold, a character whose incivility, to the delight of young, male viewers, is his stock in trade?" See "Young, Male & Making Bail," Phil Mushnick, New York Post, April 18, 2003.
The Chicago Sun-Times' Greg Couch doesn't lay the problem solely on, as New York Daily News' Lisa Olson artfully put it, there not being enough blood in the his alcohol stream. See "No stop sign in sight," Greg Couch, The Chicago Sun-Times, April 17, 2003. For more on the role of alcohol in these scraps, see "Alcohol puts a damper on fun and games," Ian O'Connor, USA Today, April 17, 2003. But if you think banning the sale of beer will solve the problem, forget it, says sports columnist Dale Robertson, who explains in green terms why that won't happen-and what should. See "Throw the book at hooligans," Dale Robertson, The Houston Chronicle, April 16, 2003. Sexual assault gets a free pass...
sometimes When college athletes are accused of sexual assault, but aren't convicted, should they be allowed to retain their scholarships and to resume their sports? In her column about how differently sexual assaults by three mid-west college basketball players were handled Carol Slezak looks at some of the factors that seem to sway college administrators' thinking about the ethics of privilege, prestige and punishment. See "A matter of chance, Carol Slezak, The Chicago Sun-Times, February 19, 2003. Post-game violence warning Sports writer Mark Kram vividly depicts a hypothetical post-game celebration that starts out innocently but escalates into a melee. For insight as to what causes fan riots and how they might be curtailed, see "At a loss for answers," Mark Kram, Philadelphia Daily News, January 23, 2003. Speaking of football fan violence, sports columnist Les Carpenter revisits the stabbing and beating incident at the Chargers-Raiders game in San Diego on October 29, 2000. At that game a San Diego fan narrowly escaped death at the hands of a Raiders fan.
See "San Diego prepares for lawless Raiders," Les Carpenter, The Seattle Times, January 22, 2003. Iraqi athletes allegedly tortured Sports writer Michael O'Keefe reports: "A Daily News investigation this month found that hundreds of athletes have been jailed, abused or killed because they failed to bring home medals or win important games, criticized Saddam Hussein's regime, or simply became too popular with fans." For more, see "IOC probes torture of athletes in Iraq," Michael O'Keeffe, Daily News, January 21, 2003. Recent violence mars college and professional football On celebrating college victories with violence, The New York Times quotes Kent State sociologist Jerry M. Lewis, who specializes in crowd behavior: "College sports riots usually break out in urban settings and after the home team wins a close game during a big championship. People identify so strongly with these football teams and the competition is getting so intense that fans feel violence is a skill and a way of showing loyalty. It's really all about showing you " re part of the team." They " re predictable, he says, when five factors come into play: a natural urban gathering place is available, there's easy access, a championship is at stake, it is a close game and the home team wins." For more insight, see "Colleges Pondering Prevention After the Latest 'Sports Riots'," Joe Drape, The New York Times, November 26, 2002, and "A Fall Tradition: Rooting and Rioting for the Home Team," Jeffrey Gentleman, The New York Times, December 1, 2002.
On the tradition of snapping goal posts, The New York Times' Bill Pennington tells the story of Meg Cimino, who in 1983, when she was an 18-year-old college freshman, was struck by steel goal posts felled by celebrating football fans. He writes that the posts fractured her skull and damaged her brain stem and cerebellum. When paramedics found her, he writes, she "was bleeding heavily from her mouth, ears and nose, and her heart soon stopped. She had no vital signs." Now, nearly two decades later, when Ms Cimino sees crowds surging onto the field after games she wonders what the reasons are for letting this behavior go on.
Pennington explains how the tradition of toppling goal posts got started and how circumstances have changed such that "There are no good reasons for letting it go on." He writes, "It is time to do whatever it takes - educating fans, providing extraordinary security or simply greasing the goal posts - to bring a permanent halt to this hazardous ritual." For more on this tragic story, see "In the Snap of a Goal Post, Life Can Be Forever Altered," Bill Pennington, The New York Times, November 26, 2002. On violence in professional football, sports columnist Sally Jenkins gives us her take on who is accountable for drawing the line between toughness and violence, between a hard collision and a needlessly violent one, between a disciplined tackle and a cheap shot, an accidental helmet hit and a malicious one, discretionary force to send a message and sheer sadism. She says the NFL can try to regulate football violence, it probably can't realistically legislate it. She thinks "[t]he violence level is more realistically established and controlled by the participants, between themselves." Given that players have a choice as to how they play the game, she writes, .".. violence is as much a matter of a player's choices as it is of the rules. To say otherwise is to suggest he's not entirely in command of himself." See "NFL Violence: It's a Matter Of Choice, Not Just the Rules," Sally Jenkins, The Washington Post, December 1, 2002; Page D 05.
On the NFL's approach to regulating on-field violence, sports commentator Ron Borges writes, "The suits who run pro football show their hypocrisy more and more every week. They fine players for legal as well as illegal body contact. They issue manicured press releases abhorring violence, then sell it every Sunday and in every video game store in America." He says the NFL is teaching and selling violence and that if it really wanted to reduce the violence on the field, they know how to do it. "It's by going after the coaches and the management of teams that teach the 'put a hat on 'em' mentality.
Until they do that, they " re attacking the victims, not the problem." See "NFL is hypocritical about violence," Ron Borges, MSNBC. com, November 20, 2002. "To players, it's the height of hypocrisy that a league that baldly markets violence then turns around and disciplines them for it, when it's their starting positions and livelihoods at stake." - Sally Jenkins, Washington Post sports columnist Time to get serious about NBA violence Writes Chicago Sun-Times sports columnist: Why not make the financial penalties so severe that no player would think of throwing a punch? Why not delay a player's suspension until the playoffs, when each game matters? Or automatically dock a team that's involved in a fight five games in the standings? Or make fighting an automatic six-week suspension? For insight on who's to blame besides the athletes, see "These punch fines are bad joke," Carol Slezak, The Chicago Sun-Times, October 29, 2002. Time to get serious about NFL violence For two in-depth looks at the culture of violence in the NFL and the debate over where and how to draw a halt to the dangers without destroying the nature and entertainment value of the game (including an interview with Darryl S tingley, the victim of a paralyzing hit), see "N.
F. L. Needs to Crack Down on Dangerous Hits," Mike Freeman, The New York Times, November 1, 2002, and "Hit list," Patrick Saunders, The Denver Post, October 27, 2002. In a new effort to stem helmet-to-helmet hits and hits on defenseless players, NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue has sent a memo to all 32 head coaches informing them that "they could be fined for condoning such hits, and that teams could incur serious sanctions if it can be determined they have paid the fines for penalized or suspended players." See "Tagliabue Emphasizes Safety to Coaches," Leonard Shapiro, The Washington Post, November 4, 2002; Page D 14. "Woman's Word and Athletes' Honor Are at Odds" For an in-depth look at what's involved and what's at stake when a coach vouched for athletes accused of rape and other wrongdoing, see "Woman's Word and Athletes' Honor Are at Odds," Selena Roberts, The New York Times, October 20, 2002.
Nearly 25 years ago former Lakers Kermit Washington's punch nearly killed Rockets Rudy Tomjanovich, an act that left deep and far-reaching scars on both players and on the game. For a story of contrition and remarkable forgiveness, see "25 years later, all is forgiven," Jonathan F eigen, The Houston Chronicle, August 23, 2002. Largely written by sportswriter and author Alexander Wolff, Sports Illustrated's "Special Report - Munich 1972" remembers the events that ended in the tragic deaths of eleven Israeli Olympians at the hands of Palestinian terrorists. Inching inexorably to the grim shootout, Wolff leads us through the plot, the takeover, and the standoff and then rests us on his shoulders as he looks back at the attacks from the present.
His feature article, "When the Terror Began," is bolstered by four sidebars; two - "The Mastermind" and "Striking Back" - are also penned by him. The others are Brian Cazeneuve's "The American," and Don Yaeger's "A Painful Visit." For further perspective, Sports Illustrated gives us four flashbacks: Kenny Moore's "Shootings in the Night" and "Munich's Message," Jerry Kirshenbaum's "A Sanctuary Violated," and E. L. Doctorow's "After the Nightmare." To see these articles, click on the hyperlinked title or see the August 26, 2002, issue of Sports Illustrated. Race car driver Tony Stewart has gone beyond apologizing publicly for his violent outburst against a freelance photographer. He's made an equally public commitment to seek help, and is quoted as saying: "If it makes me less of a person or less of a man, then so be it.
It's what I have to do for myself." This is a major step forward for Stewart, writes sports columnist Jemal Horton, " it also just might serve as a signal for all the other hot heads in the world of sports." For more on what Stewart's contrition says, see "Give Stewart credit for his major step," C. Jemal Horton, The Indianapolis Star, August 11, 2002. Seeing the handwriting of self-destruction on the wall for NASCAR's Tony Stewart (who got into an altercation with a freelance photographer a couple days ago), sports columnist Jemal Horton urges him to, shall we say, take it upon himself to develop healthier life skills. Horton's column shows how complicated inducing proper behavior is when anti-heroes are admired and rewarded for deviant behavior.
Just a parent must make difficult decisions about whether and how to punish or discipline a misbehaving child, Nascar and Stewart's other authority figures also face tough, and maybe futile, choices. See "Stewart needs to change his ways," C. Jemal Horton, The Indianapolis Star, August 6, 2002. Another bothersome aspect of the latest string of reported domestic abuse by athletes, writes sports columnist Rick Telander, is the lack of remorse or regret shown by some of them. Not that he wants apologies to become "easy escapes for bad guys," but "taking responsibility and apologizing for bad acts is," he writes, "the start of rebirth." Sadly, for many of these rich and famous stars, he notes, "Apologizing is seen not as a moral issue, but as a weakening of one's defense strategy." See "Just a few regrets," Rick Telander, The Chicago Sun-Times, July 28, 2002. The perception that athletes are more prone than other men to batter women carries a message that sports leaders mustn't ignore, says sportswriter Steve Wilstein of the Associated Press.
He writes, "It's an issue of image for the leagues that threatens them at the most basic level-popularity and revenue. More than that, it's an issue that can have serious repercussions for impressionable young fans, validating brutality and a disregard for the law." Wilstein quotes sports sociologist Richard Lap chick: "It's really essential that batterers be banned from sports. Not because there's a disproportionate number of athletes who are involved, but because they " re such role models for kids. If kids see athletes get away with hurting a woman, then they might feel that it's OK for them, that they " re going to get away with the same thing." See "Banning batterers from sports is idea whose time has come," Steve Wilstein, Associated Press, July 30, 2002. "The majority of professional athletes may be decent enough sorts who are... quite civil to the women in their lives," writes sports columnist Sally Jenkins, but "what seems plain enough is that some superstar athletes are losing their ability to negotiate ordinary everyday situations and setbacks, whether career or romantic." What these "criminal women bashers" have in common she writes is "that their basic conversational skill and ability to cope in normal adult relationships seem to have withered." And they may have withered, she adds, precisely because they get their way all the time and because they are surrounded by "apologists" who give them permission to behave the way they do.
For more, see "It's Their Way Or the Hard Way," Sally Jenkins, The Washington Post, July 29, 2002; Page D 01. Sports columnist Jason Whitlock doesn't think women should count on men to combat the rash of domestic-abuse cases haunting high-profile, influential professional athletes. Nor should they expect the leagues to come up with a strong deterrent. Instead, he thinks women should use their purchasing power to lead the fight.
He says a boycott of products that star athletes endorse would send a powerful message to the abusers themselves and his millionaire peers. And it would serve as "a perfect opportunity for a parent to talk with a young boy about the scourge of domestic violence and why it's important to show a spouse or girlfriend respect." See "Women must lead way in fight against domestic violence," Jason Whitlock, The Kansas City Star, July 26, 2002. Part of the problem with athletes who abuse women close to them, writes Mike Freeman of The New York Times, is they nearly always get a second chance, even if they have been accused previously of attacking women. He suggests leagues and player unions agree to limit second chances with these measures: 1. Suspend players for one-year the first time they plead out or are convicted of violence against a woman.
Impose a lifetime ban if he is convicted a second time. In both cases, the accused could appeal a conviction to an arbitrator, approved by the union and the league. If he prevails in arbitration, the suspension would be reversed and the league would pay him compensatory damages. 2.
Make the franchises themselves more accountable by imposing $1 million fine and $4 millions salary-cap clip on a team who signs a player with a previous domestic violence conviction or suspension if that player is convicted a second time. See "Fix Needed for Epidemic of Violence," Mike Freeman, The New York Times, July 26, 2002. Enough, writes, Gary Shelton of the St. Petersburg Times, with the euphemisms women beaters and their enablers use to deny responsibility or claim self-victimization for their crimes against women.
He shows exactly why domestic violence isn't a private matter, and challenges professional sports to take these "more seriously than a public relations distraction." See "Don't let abusers off hook," Gary Shelton, St. Petersburg Times, July 25, 2002. Detailing statistics of domestic-violence crimes, Newsday's Johnette Howard observes that violence against women is a crime that men, and not just male athletes, commit in epidemic proportions. Solving the tragedy of male violence against women, she writes, begins with: "Telling men and boys, starting at the age of 4 or 5, that violence against another human being is not permitted.
For more, see "Not Only Jocks Hurting Women," Johnette Howard, Newsday, July 24, 2002. Recollecting Nicole Brown Simpson's fate as a victim of domestic violence at the hands of her football-playing husband, Tom Knott of The Washington Times names and chastises those who tolerate and enable this abuse. See "Dangerous liaisons," Tom Knott, The Washington Times, July 24, 2002. With athlete crime now part of the flow of sports news, Michelle Hiskey writes: "It's hard to summon much outrage about something that happens so often. Faced with such a relentless march of badness, sports fans fall into an acceptance, that the heroes they celebrate on the field regularly misbehave off it.
We even defend an athlete / lawbreaker with an array of excuses: a misguided youth, a troubled soul, victimization by the press." No longer surprised by this kind of news, she adds, "Criminal behavior, and fans' acceptance of it, is just another example of sports mirroring the world we live in." See "Growing numb to athletes' misdeeds," Michelle Hiskey, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, July 24, 2002. It's time, writes sports columnist C. Jemal Horton, for big league sports and "model sports citizens" to send a lasting message to athletes and victims of athlete crimes. Players who are unquestionably involved in crimes such as domestic abuse should receive severe suspensions and fines. And he means s-e-v-e-r-e.
Like half the season and half the salary. See "Sports must get tough on domestic abusers in their midst," C. Jemal Horton, The Indianapolis Star, July 23, 2002. Why is it that the burden of writing about athletes accused of violence against women generally falls to female sportswriters, wonders Miami Herald's Michele Kaufman. No matter, she writes, when four high-profile athletes are arrested in one week for some type of domestic violence, it is reason for alarm. It's also a clarion call for serious consequences.
For what should not be allowed, see "Women victims almost becoming a sports clich'e," Michelle Kaufman, The Miami Herald, July 23, 2002. On solutions to prevent post-game celebrations on college campuses from turning violent see "Providing students outlets may curb postgame violence," Thomas O'Toole, USA TODAY, July 12, 2002, Page 12 C. A New Jersey sports complex may have inoculated youth baseball against obnoxious sports parents with a unique design of its diamonds. See "Youth sports complex finds way to control rowdy parents," Associated Press, Indianapolis Star, July 4, 2002.
Last week in a New York Times story about former NFL star Jim Brown, who chose to be jailed for violent behavior rather than to undergo counseling and do community service, sports columnist Mike Freeman wrote: "Every superhero or larger-than-life figure has a gross flaw; with Brown, it is his brutal treatment of women."A flaw," wonders Los Angeles Times sports columnist Diane Pucin. "That's what it is now to be jailed for aggressive behavior toward women." She puzzles how things can get better "if a man with the moral standing Brown has brought to the minority male community refuses to accept his "flaw" and deal with it and fix it." She offers that Brown could be a hero without a flaw if he'd "speak about evil of violence against women, about how difficult it might be to acknowledge the problem when it's personal and how necessary it is to stop such behavior." For the complete story, see "Actions of Jim Brown Convey This Message Too," Diane Pucin, The Los Angeles Times, April 6, 2002. (See "Jim Brown Is Prisoner on His Own Terms," Mike Freeman, The New York Times, March 28, 2002. ) The New York Times' Mike Wise points to several factors that may contribute to the actual or seeming rise in violent incidents in NBA games: Rule changes that de-emphasize calling fouls for incidental contact Inconsistent officiating, leading to frustration on the court Development of a new class of rough, young players trying to prove their worth The news media's penchant for broadcasting replays of fights. See "In the N. B.
A. , Fists and Elbows Flying More Frequently," Mike Wise, The New York Times, March 27, 2002. For insight into why it's better to judge actions rather than people, see New York Post's Wallace Matthew's story on former NBA star Jayson Williams. ("Dying Girl Saw Jayson At His Best," Wallace Matthews, New York Post, March 17, 2002. ) Newsday's Shaun Powell takes us through NBA star Jayson Williams' metamorphosis from a life sprinkled with magnanimity, charm and occasional recklessness to one of another athlete accused of terrible felonies surrounding and including manslaughter in "A Life of Leisure Changed Forever," Shaun Powell, Newsday, March 14, 2002. On the NHL's success in shifting the sport away from violence, the Washington Times' Patrick Hruby explains why "the one-dimensional hockey bruiser - species: Homo Goon us - teeters on the verge of extinction, a victim of harsher rules, shifting mores, shrinking rosters and creeping irrelevance." See "Requiem for the goons," Patrick Hruby, The Washington Times, March 14, 2002.
Los Angeles sports writers muse over the cause and effect of Lakers' Kobe Bryant's post-game swipe at Indiana's Reggie Miller (who also recently had to sit out a few games because of a flare-up with Lakers's haquille O'Neal). As they did with O'Neal's on-court violence, some teammates praised Bryant's aggression as teaching a lesson to a "disrespectful" opponent. Lakers' Coach Phil Jackson publicly rebuked Bryant's behavior as selfish to the team saying, "You don't get respect, you earn it." See "What was he thinking?" Kevin Modest i, Los Angeles Daily News, March 3, 2002, and "Incident With Miller Has Left Bryant Boxed Into a Corner," Bill Plaschke, The Los Angeles Times, March 4, 2002. In a stirring commentary on Jayson Williams' arrest for the killing of a limousine driver, sports columnist Mike Bianchi writes, "You " ve never ever read of an athlete doing anything good with a gun... Athletes don't carry guns to be safe; they carry them to be cool." See "Athletes find it necessary to pack the heat," Mike Bianchi, Orlando Sentinel, February 24, 2002. For a perplexing contrast of the different sides to Jayson Williams, see "Two Sides of Ex-NBA Star Clash in Shooting Death," Michael Powell, Washington Post, March 1, 2002; Page A 01.
Sports Ethics Questions Factors contributing to the continued increase in violence in professional hockey include: (1) a proliferation of unskilled players who can't compete any other way, (2) the sensationalizing of brutality by the NHL and some television broadcasters and hockey teams, (3) the National Hockey League's tolerance and tacit promotion of violence by its refusal to impose sufficiently severe sanctions, and (4) the failure of hockey organizations to develop teams and playing conditions that would promote a sport more conducive to some of today's fast and highly skilled players. Most people would agree that hockey players themselves are ultimately responsible for their violent behavior, but what about the moral culpability of teams, owners, the sports media industry, broadcasters, referees and the NHL? Consider the following: New York Daily News' Bob Raissman reports people "in the hockey business flat-out know violence and mayhem are not only a foundation of hockey culture, but a key part of the way the sport is currently marketed." He faults commentators who flip out over cheap and dangerous shots by some hockey players, but don't take a stand "on the root causes of what they see as a problem." He points to a currently airing NHL commercial showing a series of violent collisions on ice. Apparently, he says, the NHL believes this is the part of the game worth promoting. See "Face It, NHL Sells Violence," Bob Raissman, New York Daily News, April 30, 2002. Sports columnist George Vecsey of The New York Times writes of the "current mess of real hockey players maiming other real hockey players" and warns, "The league cannot afford this carnage." In recent match-ups, two extremely valuable players were taken out of their games with concussions from hits that, he says, "would not be tolerated on the sidewalks outside those arenas." Describing the hitters' assassin-like mentality, Vecsey notes, "And make no mistake about it - they were injured because of their value." As to hockey fan violence, he says the teams themselves use violence to incite the crowd. He cites the underlying message in a video one team recently ran during a game showing fans harassing a "goofy-looking actor" wearing the opposing team jersey was clearly: It's "open season" on anyone wearing the other team's gear.
See "N. H. L. Needs Long Suspensions Now," George Vecsey, The New York Times, April 28, 2002. Sports columnist Dan Daly of The Washington Times scoffs at weak sanctions the NHL levies against players who literally and intentionally target their opponents' hottest scorer, but he says that's not the only problem: Players skate faster than ever, which makes the ice surface smaller than ever, which leads to more collisions - and more injurious hits - than ever.
He thinks the solution is to increase the size of the rink. See "During playoffs, NHL means Neanderthals have license," Dan Daly, The Washington Times, April 30, 2002. To bring out the best in hockey and make it exciting The Washington Post's William Gildea writes: the NHL must impose consistently harsher penalties across the board for dirty play; sports television must stop glorifying violence -- using it, in effect, to promote their own telecasts; and rinks need to be made wider to open the game for "its best skaters, its best passers and its mobile defense men." See "Pure Hockey Deserves A Fighting Chance," William Gildea, The Washington Post, April 30, 2002; Page D 03. Former Cleveland Browns football great Jim Brown is serving a five-month jail sentence for vandalizing his wife's car. He was also charged with-but found not guilty of-making terrorist threats against her.
It was his fifth brush with legal authorities on charges of domestic abuse, yet he states, "The issue isn't about the safety of women.' ' This, writes USA TODAY's Jon Saraceno, is from one who is known for advocating personal responsibility and self-control in his long-standing activism for African-American empowerment. Ironically, instead of accepting responsibility for his own actions, he characterizes himself as a "political" prisoner and shifts blame to, in the most recent instance, his wife's menstrual cycle. See "True manhood eludes Brown," Jon Saraceno, USA TODAY, April 10, 2002, Page 3 C. On the subject of violence against women, what does Jim Brown need to do to bridge the gap between what he says are his belief and value systems and how he acts? Sven-Goran Eriksson, Swedish coach of England's soccer team, excluded Jonathan Woodgate from a friendly match against Italy essentially because Woodgate failed a character test. Woodgate had been convicted of fighting in the beating of an Asian student in January 2000, and was sentenced to 100 hours of community service.
He also was fined by his club for drunken behavior. In keeping him off the team, Coach Eriksson reasoned that if England's soccer fans are banned for three years from traveling internationally to watch their team play when they have been convicted of a serious criminal offence, a player should suffer similar consequences. "What a concept," writes sports columnist Cam Cole. "Accountability, in sports." Sure," he says, "it's opening up a whole new can of worms, subjecting sports figures to character scrutiny, but it's a can that ought to have been opened a long time ago, before the standards of acceptable behavior got so deplorably low." See "Over the line?" Cam Cole, National Post, March 27, 2002. Imagine you coach, manage or own a sports team.
Suppose one of your players is guilty of misconduct off the field. What would you be willing to do to hold the athlete accountable? How would your thinking be different were your team collegiate, high school, a youth group, or professional? As a fan, what action are you willing to take to hold athletes accountable for their misconduct? Does failing to hold an athlete accountable for wrongdoing show hypocrisy or lack integrity for not acting in accord with stated beliefs? Or does it show compassion and forgiveness? What standard do you use to decide between zero tolerance on one hand and clemency on the other? What types of behavior or wrongs merit lifetime sanction in sports? NASCAR recently levied $30, 000 in fines against three drivers for altercations under rules allowing sanctions for actions deemed "detrimental to stock car racing." Citing huge attendance as proof that fisticuffs don't hurt the sport, sports columnist Ed Hinton scoffs at these scuffles being considered "detrimental." He understands that "NASCAR feels compelled to do something to keep a lid on rowdiness," but, he writes, "NASCAR has joined in the charade of all mainstream sports, which levy cosmetic fines for extraneous violence, playing to a society largely in denial of the neuro biochemical truth: That the human brain, deep in the "medial forebrain bundle" or "old brain," retains the ancient instincts toward violence for survival." See "Why fine drivers for adding spice?" Ed Hinton, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, March 29, 2002. Under what circumstances should fist fights in stock car racing be considered acceptable behavior? Does it make a difference if the fight took place off camera? From a ethical perspective, what good can come from such fisticuffs? What harm? Suppose fist fights were tolerated historically or are acceptable in other cultures. Does that bolster an argument that they should be tolerated or accepted in stock car racing today? How does excusing such behavior harm the sport, its fans, or society? What message is sent by disciplining racers for fighting and by excusing them? Which is better? Does it make a difference whether the driver's behavior is instinctive or his anger is provoked? Sports columnist Peter Vescey takes issue with the two-day suspension assessed against basketball stars Kobe Bryant and Reggie Miller, complaining that because Bryant was the aggressor and Miller only retaliated that Miller should receive a lighter sanction. According to Vescey NBA Commissioner David Stern, "believes, without exception or circumstance, any form of retaliation must be punished; although the sentencing might be unfair in certain situations, he feels such impartiality reduces skirmishes and keeps bushfires under control." Is it unfair to punish retaliators? Which should take priority: being fair or being impartial? See "Kobe-Reggie Clash Shows NBA Injustice," Peter Vescey, New York Post, March 5, 2002. Most agree basketball player Shaquille O'Neal's punch thrown at Bulls Brad Miller in retaliation for his flagrant foul was dangerous and bad for basketball.
But what of the others' reactions? Are the NBA's fine and suspension both proportional and sufficient sanction for an offense that potentially endangered another player's life? What message does the punishment send? Is it the right one? Is a 3-day suspension that effectively penalizes the Lakers franchise and fans fair to them? Does it matter? Whose interests should take top priority? Some commiserate with O'Neal because he has endured years of thumping, reportedly to the blind eye of referees. One teammate seemed to say that O'Neal's self-appointed vigilantism was justified as measures of self-defense and self-pride. Is this loyalty warranted? Would it be better, more honorable for teammates and coaches to condemn his actions? Is it morally inconsistent to commiserate with the man and yet denounce his behavior? (See "N. B. A.
Needs to Hit Shaq Much Harder," Ira Berk ow, The New York Times, January 16, 2002; "Things could have been worse for O'Neal, Lakers, NBA," Mike Kahn, SportsLine. com, January 14, 2002; "Don't Ignore Center of Issue," Bill Plaschke, The Los Angeles Times, January 15, 2002. ) The New York Times, January 16, 2002; "Things could have been worse for O'Neal, Lakers, NBA," Mike Kahn, SportsLine. com, January 14, 2002; "Don't Ignore Center of Issue," Bill Plaschke, The Los Angeles Times, January 15, 2002. ).