Intensity taken too far


If you’ve been watching the Stanley Cup playoffs, you’ve probably seen more fights than in a high school hallway. Take the Kings vs. Canucks game last Sunday – apparently I turned on the TV to watch a fight and, somewhere in the action, a hockey game broke out. 

But that’s not the only instance. Almost every series so far this postseason has featured a number of fights and, in some instances, large brawls. 

The highlight of the incidents so far has been Raffi Torres’ vicious shoulder to the chin of the Blackhawks’ Marian Hossa. This landed Torres a 25-game suspension, and made him the ninth player to be suspended during the playoffs. 

But isn’t the game of hockey built around an intense style of play, fights being both allowed by the rulebook and encouraged to build team momentum? Well yes, but there comes a point when the malicious intent to harm another player is taken too far. 

These incidents have been happening in multiple sports; this year seems to be the climax of it all. But when does the bad blood equals good ratings system become imbalanced? Professional sports leagues seem to believe that it is happening now and are starting to crack down.

Hockey’s example is with Torres, a 25-game suspension being a huge statement to the rest of the league. No player wants a ticket off the ice because he played a little too rough.

Another recent example comes from the NFL. Roger Goodell, continuing his work as the head of the “No Fun League,” suspended several Saints’ coaches, including head coach Sean Payton, over an alleged bounty program designed to award players who injured their opponents. This time, in terms of punishment, Goodell got it right.

Also recently was Metta World Peace’s savage elbow to the face of the Thunder’s James Harden. While Metta World Peace is supposed to be encouraging us to think of world peace, all he has us thinking now is Ron Artest

That’s right, you remember Ron Artest, the guy who started the infamous Pacers/Pistons fight. He had a pretty good disguise going on with that whole world peace thing, but, in the end, Scooby and the Gang didn’t even have to chase him: Artest ripped his own mask off. He was suspended for seven games, as the NBA wishes to teach their players a lesson. 

So yes, leagues have been trying to crack down and set some ground rules, and correctly so. There should be an intensity to every sports matchup – that’s what makes it so fun to watch, right? But that intensity shouldn’t result in a player being knocked out or taking a flying bow to the temple. 

As fans, it’s always fun to see a fight – whether it’s a bench-clearing brawl on the diamond or a monitored fight in the NHL. We should, however, cheer on those that don’t injure other players. 

There should be no fan-based cheering award or financial compensation if a player breaks the quarterback’s legs or knocks a guy out. We need to go back to the more harmless, intensity-based altercations rather than continuing on the path to bodily destruction. 

Everyone likes to see a fight, but not too many people want to watch someone get killed.

The only exception is, of course, Varitek’s claw to the eyes of A-Rod. That’s totally excusable, and probably the only victory Sox fans will be able to boast about if this season continues in the way it’s going.

I’m not saying everyone should be friends, and I would be terribly disappointed if it got to the point where there were no more fights in any sport. Let’s just not let it get to that point.