Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The era of the cheap shot

The New Orleans Saints put out an injury bounty on opponents. Meta World Peace (aka Ron Artest, NBA thug) throws an elbow that earns him a suspension and puts a player out with a concussion. The NHL playoffs are a spectacle of mayhem. 

We are living in the era of the cheap shot.

Hard play is great. This crap ain’t hard play. It’s assault with intent to injure. Seriously. If you or I deliberately hit someone in the throat with a stick or threw an elbow to their ear, we’d be up on charges. 

Consider the hit that Raffi Torres of the Phoenix Coyotes put on Marian Hossa of the Chicago Blackhawks last week. Torres left his skates and went for Hossa’s head, well after Hossa had unloaded the puck. Hossa left the ice on a stretcher and is still recovering from a serious concussion. 
A thug took a far superior opponent off the ice in the playoffs. For the Coyotes, Torres for Hossa was a good tradeoff.

Torres’ 25-game suspension is a stern message, but only that. Torres is a serial offender; he should be gone, done, banned from the league.

This NHL playoff season has been rife with cheap shots. Not just big hits, not just fighting where two players square off — we’re talking vicious, inexcusable headhunting. The league needs to come down harder on this kind of behavior. If you’re going to deliberately threaten the career and health of your opponents, your career should be at stake, too. A Torres-scale suspension for a first offense. A season for the second. Next time you do it, you’re done. Three strikes, you’re out.

As for the Saints’ coaching staff… Putting a bounty on opponents is so far beyond the pale, it should be grounds for a lifetime ban for the first offense.

Real zero tolerance would put a stop to this stuff in a hurry. It’s doubtful that any of the professional sports will go that far. 

Given the primacy of sports in American cultural life, what happens in the arena percolates through the whole culture. Unless we want to live in the Society of the Sucker Punch, we’d do well to put a stop to the mayhem.

Jim Cornelius, Editor

1 comment:

  1. The real losers here are the thousands of young men and women who naturally emulate their sports "heroes". For every professional player, there are hundreds of youth, high school, college, and semi-pro players. These players learn from observing the best in their sports, the pros. The sad messages that are being conveyed by these de facto role models pollute the ranks of sports at all of these levels. I advocate competing as hard as one possibly can within the boundaries of the rules of the game, but cheap shots with intent to harm, and cheating of any form must be punished immediately and severely, at all levels, especially the pros.

    That message must be delivered by coaches, managers, owners, and yes, parents, because until the "win at all costs" mentality that pervades our culture is reversed, actions like those that you mentioned will be tacitly celebrated, rather than soundly condemned. I think that Roger Goodell is on the right track. Gary Bettman needs to go to school on Goodell's tactics and strategies.

    John C.