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Violence in Sports Russell J Noto Prof. Regan April 24, 2000 Sports Management With the increase in society taking a stance against violence, sports has become an area where some feel that the violent acts such as the hitting and fighting that occurs should be eliminated. It is very difficult to change the way that a game is played because people have been playing it that way for years. The violence in sports needs to be eliminated because of the extreme cases that continue to haunt many of the leagues and the players themselves. There are many theories to why there is so much violence in sports today and one of them is because the athletes today are able to get away with more when they are young. An example would be if a high profile high school athlete who had a scholarship to a big time school were to get in trouble maybe it would be hidden a lot more.
Where as if another non-athlete had done the same thing there would be more of a price to pay. So from an early age these athletes learn that they are more important then other students or people. When they get to the college or pro level and someone tells them what to do they dont know how to handle it in the correct manor. Many professional athletes have been looked upon as a problem before they become pro because of certain violence problems they have had in the past. And in many cases it has hurt player in where they are drafted and the money that they make.
Others theories have to do with what each sport allows to occur. In a sport such as hockey, where people are expected to hit and check each other as hard as they can into the boards, sooner or later a fight will break out. Many people who follow hockey watch it just for the fights and when a fight occurs they cheer on their favorite player in the fight. Players like the attention so they continue to fight.
In a sport like hockey, there are some players whose only role on the team is to protect and enforce the unwritten rules of the game, where a team goon is to protect and defend anyone who goes near a star player like Wayne Gretzky or Mario Lemieux. Some of these fighters or bodyguards are paid just for that purpose alone to protect the star player. Marty Mcsorley of the Boston Bruins is a prime example, he is seen throughout the league as an enforcer and a fighter and he took it to the extreme recently when he hit a player over the head with his stick, and the National Hockey League suspended him for the indefinitely. When interviewed he said that people dont understand that all he wanted to do was start a fight with him.
This is something that has to be controlled by the league. Especially in hockey where fighting is not condemned to harshly. When the National Hockey League (NHL) are asked to try and remove the violence from their sport, they are hesitant because it is not what a lot of the fans want. Some of the best-selling videos in parts of the Northeastern United States have been a collection of the best fights in the NHL. Why should these leagues remove the violence that is occurring if they are making money and keeping people in the seats? Some fans of hockey want to see these situations and eliminating the fighting aspect would change their feelings towards supporting the sport.
On the other hand, there are many people who may enjoy the sport more if the fighting did not occur. So the NHL is put into a tough situation. Even former NHL president Clarence Campbell felt that the violence-taking place in his sport was called for and was reluctant to remove the fighting because he knew that it is what the majority of hockey fans want. So the league needs to look at what the majority of fans out their want to see. The NHL does not promote the violence but it does tolerate it. This is something that needs to be looked at more seriously.
If the NHL continues to allow the violence and the fighting to occur it may lose more and more fans then they can afford to lose. If they choose to eliminate it there are many ways to do that. One way to help eliminate it is to increase the penalty time in the game when a fight or illegal hit occurs. Another way would be to give the players a more damaging fine whether it is with a large fine financially or if it is a longer suspension of games.
Either way the player is being hurt financially which may cause them to think twice in the future. The Mcsorley incident was an extreme case but even the smaller fights that occur every game and dont get as much attention as that one need to be noticed and need to be controlled. The National Football League is having most of their problems off the field rather then on the field. In recent months, two NFL players had been charged with murder and another convicted of breaking and entering his neighbors home. The two charged with murder are Rae Carruth and Ray Lewis.
Carruth's story is one in which he hired someone to first beat up his pregnant girlfriend. That turned into her getting shot and killed why Carruth was in the car. The other player to be brought up on murder charges was Ray Lewis. His situation began after a Super Bowl party that he was attending turned into a fight outside the bar where two men were stabbed and killed. Ray Lewis claims that he did not kill either of those men.
Three other players were recently suspended by the NFL for breaking the leagues anti-crime policy, which was established due to the recent criminal activity that has occurred with NFL players. The three were the first to be punished under the new policy. Matt Odwyer of the Cincinnati Bengals pled guilty to assault and disorderly conduct, Jumbo Elliot pled guilty to harassment and disorderly conduct that stemmed from the same incident outside a Long Island bar. Dead Walker pled guilty to assault. Odwyer and Walker were both suspended for 2 games and Jumbo Elliott, who just recently retired, will also serve a two game suspension should he decide to play in the league again.
These incidents involving NFL players are a few of the cases of violence that occur off the field by the players of the league. This again is a situation just like the NHL that has to be addressed with severe consequences. The NFL has taken that step by created the anti-crime policy that punishes players who break the law. But then the question is asked is a two game suspension enough? Many say that it isnt.
Players make so much money now that missing two games pay wont really hurt them financially. What does that leave? Full year suspensions? Larger fines to be paid by violators?
I say yes to all of them. These guys make an obscene amount of money and yet they still commit all of these crimes. What kind of message is that showing the kids that look up to these athletes and want to be just like these players? At least you see the NFL making some sort of effort to try to prevent this. Another suggestions is to put the rookie through more intense courses on how to deal with the situation that they are in being professional athletes. Another topic that has come up in discussions recently is that teams need to take a harder look into someones off field activities.
Many players have violent and criminal pasts and maybe they have changed but it needs to be looked at more closely by the teams and the NFL. Randy Moss is a perfect example of how it could go the other. He was looked upon as having a bad reputation off the field but the Minnesota Vikings took a chance on him and he has not had any legal problems off the field. This is considered in part to the fact that a player like Chris Carter took him under his wing and helped him along the way. Maybe the NFL needs or maybe they have a program in which the veterans can take the young troubled players under their wing and help them. Not all people can change but should the league allow the players who dont change and continue to commit crimes stay in the league?
The National Basketball Association is another league in which violence both on and off the court. The most notable example of recent years is the Latrell Sprewell and P. J. Carlesimo incident. Sprewell, a Golden State Warrior player under Carlesimo at the time, choked his coach in the middle of practice. It was all over the news, and the NBA suspended him and fined him for a year.
Now he is playing for the NY Knicks in the playoffs making more money then he was before. Is this how it should be? I dont know maybe it did effect him and he has changed. He hasnt got in any fights since then. Maybe the message was sent. But there are fights that still occur occasionally in the NBA and things that just dont belong in the game happen.
Dennis Rodman is another perfect example; he would head butt referees and kick cameramen in the groin. But he would still fined some team that wanted to take him. Recently with Dallas I think all the teams in the league just realized that he is not going to change. He is now most likely out of the league forever. The question is asked though Did he get too many chances? I feel that he did, even though he was a very good player he gave the NBA a bad name and a bad image.
The Leagues need to start taking control of the players and not allowing them to embarrass the league or make them look bad. The players who do things to damages the images of the different leagues need to be punished a lot more then they are. Another reason is because of the incidents that are now occurring at the college level. A prime example of that would be the incident that has recently come out about Indiana Universities mens basketball coach Bobby Knight. As seen in the picture on the following page, Coach Knight was accused of choking former player Neil Reed. The investigation is still going on but what does this say about all sports in general.
Violence occurs at all levels of athletics and mostly college and pros that are suppose to be setting the example. Who does this effect? It effects everyone from the leagues to the 6 year old watching a game on t. v. of his favorite player as he gets into a fight.
Sports are intended to be fun and entertaining and with all the violence that occurs it is losing their appeal. The management of all the leagues, teams, and player have to take a look at who and what they want to represent and be represented by. The image is something the management have to control and if they dont make more restrictions on the players and change the fact that a lot of players are seen as criminals then it will have a huge effect on the image of sports. And all the players that arent out there committing crimes and are doing the right thing they themselves need to get upset by the fact that others are giving their sport a bad name.
So the players who care need to speak up and save their sports images before its too late. Kids out there already see enough violence in the streets and on t. v. Sports use to be a way to escape all of that and unless things change sports are going to be just like everything else.
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