“How far should we go to stamp out violence in sport?”
When I wrote the sentence above, the pun was unintended. But as I scrolled back to edit it out and replace with something that didn’t use violent imagery, it occurred to me that it is exactly the point.
Killing, murdering, fighting, destroying – when sport is full of such metaphors, should we be surprised when violence is committed on the pitch?
It depends on the game, to an extent. Let’s start with baseball. Chase Utley’s
slide take-out of Ruben Tejada last weekend is upsetting to watch. Not because you can see Tejada’s leg get broken (which it did). It’s that Utley isn’t sliding to second base, he’s going for the man. You can see the intent.
Other sports are more inherently violent. The line between what is accepted in rugby and what isn’t is very blurred. You can take a player out without the ball at the ruck. But you can’t tackle him without the ball elsewhere. You can’t take someone out like Utley did, but there are legitimate means.
Which makes Sean O’Brien’s punch look pretty silly. That’s not even close to playing hard, it’s just punching.
So O’Brien gets banned for one game, and Utley is banned for… just two. Had O’Brien actually hurt his opponent more than just winding him, perhaps it would have been more – but the similar sanctions given the very different outcomes seem odd. Diego Costa got a three match ban for stamping on Emre Can last season, which didn’t break his leg.
Should we ban players for their actions, or the result? It might seem obvious to say for actions, but when this is jail time, yet this gets nothing, it’s a confusing world. Sport administrators seem incapable of handling violence with consistency. Meanwhile the fans and media dial up the fighting talk.
On a cheerier note, here’s the best sports writing of the week.
The RWC is set for some cracking North-South battles. Meanwhile, England needs to bridge it’s own N-S divide.
Whatever happens next, Japan have been the best thing about RWC15. Here’s to their hosting 2019.
Klopp! Klopp! Success guaranteed. I mean completely guaranteed.
Mezut Ozil is the hardest player to analyse. Here’s another go.
I like this: how football explains capitalism, rather than the other way about.
Post-Brendan’s defenestration, a thoughtful piece on the plight of the football manager.
A football agent tries to not come across like a complete arse. Fails.
Do you feel sorry for Sepp Blatter? No, nor do I. A few matters arising: if there’s no-one left to take over, what can we do with Fifa? Marina Hyde takes down the sponsors. And the Economist takes a linguistic approach to the scandal.
Somehow I think I’ve heard this one before: China being tennis’ next frontier. It won’t be if the players can’t breathe…
More on Nadal’s struggles.
Why we love all-rounders (and why Ben Stokes is so exciting).
Namibia has failed at cricket because it has failed to attract its black population
Great essay: Test cricket – a format that defies all the rules of modern sport.
Of Cards and Cubs.
After Utley (see above), how to protect infielders?
Female talks intelligently on TV during baseball game, world comes to end.
There was I thinking Peyton Manning was a great quarterback. How wrong, how wrong.
Fantasy sports + insider trading = very modern scandal.
Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson don’t deserve to captain a US Ryder Cup team.
The yips: what are they really?
From the Olympics to escort worker – a strange tale of what goes on in an athlete’s mind.
Just give the title to Lewis now, please.
Thanks for the suggestions. That’s it, see you next Tuesday.
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