TIME OUT: Brawls are a bad example for young athletes

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 2, 2007

It seems the fighting that has gone on in professional sports and college sports, as well, is on an increase. I’m not ruling out high school from the mix either. The term we constantly here to justify these actions is competitiveness. I understand what is involved in competitive sports. There will always be some kind of &8216;fronting’ going on, if you will. It’s all part of the game. It’s no secret that sports can get pretty heated at times. I also understand that athletes compete at or near such an emotional high, they some times go overboard to where the ugly side of sports is revealed.

The problem and the negative part of it all is when an entire team erupts. When I say team, I’m referring to more than one player from a team involved on a ruckus.

On the professional level, they get high media attention when fights break out. One of the most recent fights was in New York’s Madison Square Garden a couple of weeks ago, when the NBA Denver Nuggets and the New York Knicks went at it. It included super star Carmelo Anthony throwing a punch and hitting a New York player, after things to seem to have calmed down. My question is what does this do to the image of a player of such magnitude as Anthony? Is he less marketable? Do his sponsors back away? Does his shoe sales decrease? I believe it goes much farther than those questions, because there are always young players watching. What does an incident like this do to a up and coming young sports player when he sees what goes on with players he looks up to? It’s just not a good example for our kids.

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The NBA has been trying to rebuild its image since the episode in Detroit a couple of years ago. Of course the Nugget-Knick battle was much different from the Indiana-Detroit fights, because the aforementioned fight was only between the players. Yet, I’m still disappointed that players get in situations where they can’t restrain themselves.

It also happened among the college ranks this year. Of all the sports, this one was between two football teams, the University of Miami and Florida International University. It was an ugly affair of helmet swinging and stomping by both teams. A fight between two football teams is almost unheard of these days, because the players are so well protected and it seems foolish to do so.

This is another case that puts a blemish on our college sports. What is it that those in authority, like athletic directors, commissioners, or other officials, can do to curtail some of these situations?

I witnessed a high school football brawl two years ago in Marion during the Francis Marion versus John Essex game. In my opinion, I believe the referees had let that game get out of hand early in the third quarter, because there were little fight breaking out for most of the third and fourth quarters. The amount of flags that were thrown was too numerous to remember, but it wasn’t enough to curtail the fighting. With less than four minutes left to play, and John Essex with a 22-7 lead over the disappointed Francis Marion team, multiple fights broke out on the field. Both benches emptied, and the referees ran off the field. The John Essex coach started to motion his players to the bus, but by this time the Marion fans had got involved. Some of the JE players were caught on the wrong side of the field, which prompted other players to come to their rescue. It wasn’t pretty at all, especially when the fans began to attempt to chase down players. It was all in all embarrassing.

What message are we giving our children?

Probably one of the most memorable brawls happened in May of 1932 between the Chicago White Sox and umpire George Moriaty. After dropping both ends of a doubleheader to the Indians, a frustrated White Sox team accused Moriarty of favoring the Indians. Moriarty took offense to this and challenged the entire Chicago side to a fight. White Sox pitcher Milt Gaston stepped up and was promptly knocked out in one punch. Seeing that Moriarty had broken his hand on Gaston’s face, Sox manager Lew Fonseca and several Sox players jumped him, with fellow umpire Bill Dinneen breaking things up.

In the aftermath Moriarty said to Dinneen: &8220;You stay out of this, Bill. This is my fight. Now who else is there who thinks I’m yellow?&8221; None of the White Sox answered the bell and nobody questioned Moriarty’s umpiring integrity again.

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