Category: Policy

The Brawls

The media outcry and play-by-play analysis of the recent NFL training camp brawls is indefensible and flat out hypocritical. Not only does it send a mixed message to fringe players, it also shows the two-sided nature of society when it comes to modern day sports.I by no means condone fighting in sports (with the amusing caveat of the age old fight between pitchers and batters in baseball, i.e. Nolan Ryan vs. Robin Ventura or  Izzy Alcantara vs. the entire Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons organization: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lJgB1sH9s60). However, I do find it highly hypocritical when society screams for these “overpaid athletes” to “show more passion” or “show us that you care” and then fain apathy when these athletes resort to this unfortunate violent behavior. We as a society hype these athletes up, all the while clamoring for the “passion” and “dedication” of yester years. However, in the same breath we condemn the player for yielding to the pressures of doing whatever it takes to impress their superiors, in order to earn/keep a job. How interesting it would be if 50,000 people filed into the everyday man’s office to berate, question and criticize his work product and then in the same breath question his passion. Many a physical altercation would ensue over the conference room table and/or the water cooler. Can anyone say YouTube…

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For those who will say, “well these athletes should exhibit more self-control”, I would say to you that the line between that “passion” you desire to see from athletes and the animalistic behavior that has been seen recently is a very thin line indeed. While these fighting antics are inexcusable and wrong within themselves, one must wonder where to draw the line between what we really desire as fans and what we see happening in training camps. We want “our” team to show a “never die attitude” and it is a rarity to hear a post game interview without the word “compete.” We want our athletes to compete and do whatever it takes to win – ahem…Tom Brady. Well under that pressurized situation what do you expect the outcome to be? Another reason for infighting at training camps is simply the pride factor.

Players want to prove themselves to their teammates and coaches. That inherent competitiveness is especially heated when it’s offense versus defense. Neither side wants to hear the constant chirping about how it got beat while waiting in line at the salad bar at lunch. – Greg Olsen, TE Carolina Panthers

Ok, let me see if I have all the ingredients to this concoction correctly– you have fringe players who are fighting for a roster spot, even if it is on the “death squad” – aka special teams. You have organizational hyper-scrutiny running wild, in the form of new team and position coaches and assistants, who themselves are on the hot seat, judging a player’s “aggressiveness.” You then finally throw in a rival team with the same testosterone fueled ingredients and you simply are mixing gas and fire. What do you expect to logically happen here?

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And for the person that says that athletes are to behave in a gentleman like manner and “respect the game,” well I say to you – maybe… But that is not the reality of modern day sports, whether we want to admit that to ourselves or not. This survivor behavior is instinctual when it comes to such an intense place like the NFL. Only the strong truly survive here.  Many of these athletes are literally fighting for a job to provide for families.  So I say  – “look in the mirror and ask what would you do?”