Clean Up Your Act, Players

    It’s terrifying to see a teammate sprawled motionless on the ground, as I have several times. Players and fans from both sides put aside their rivalries and share a common concern for the injured athlete.

    Noise from the fans, the sounds of the game, even time itself seems to stop as the world slows down and realizes that this is no more than just a game.

    When a pitcher takes a line drive in the face, a football player demolishes his knee, or a basketball player breaks his ankle, one begins to appreciate that there is more to life than what’s in between the boundary lines

    Just a few days ago, the Mavericks’ Juwan Howard laid out the Spurs’ Derek Anderson with an excessive, unnecessary foul, a mere 2.5 seconds left in the first half. After falling hard and separating his right shoulder, Anderson will likely miss the rest of the NBA playoffs.

    This is one of the things that is wrong with sports today. We pay to see athletes perform highly skilled actions, not to see them lose control of themselves and injure others.

    Granted, the heat of competition is fierce. Emotions run high during the playoffs, as every mistake is thoroughly scrutinized and pressure to succeed is immense, but that is no excuse to lose control and chance seriously injuring a fellow athlete.

    These athletes are getting paid millions of dollars to handle that pressure and have no reason to release it by injuring other players.

    Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all for competition. Sports can be an excellent release of frustration and pent-up energy. Putting your all into an athletic event can be very satisfying, win or lose. It is the best way to compete.

    Getting to the point of having to take emotions out on an opponent is inexcusable. Howard should have been suspended and given a hefty fine for his degrading actions. Instead he will be back on the court next game, while the Spurs’ second-best scorer will be watching from the bench.

    Now is that fair? We would like to think that while this world might not always be fair, sports, with its simple rules and attraction, should be fair. In this situation, this is not the case. An athlete is rewarded for his lack of control, while another is punished for having a good position.

    This is not how it should be. People don’t want their kids to see their idol physically punishing someone else. What kind of message does that send? What does that say to the little tikes?

    Officials should deal with this phenomenon swiftly. Penalties such as fines or suspensions would definetely be in order. It’s not like athletes can’t afford a few thousand dollars out of the millions that they make with salaries and endorsements for a fine.

    Athletes should be reminded of what first attracted them to the game: the sights and sounds, the feel of the ball, the adoring fans, the thrill of competition and the bonding that only teammates can have.

    If athletes could only remember during the heat of competition that it is only a game, then perhaps they’d focus more on achieving than hurting.

    What a beautiful game that would be.

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