Carmelo Anthony gets in a huge brawl with the New York Knicks and the next day everyone is picking him apart and talking about how this was a huge disappointment.
Meanwhile, on the ice in the NHL, Sean Avery is punching a guy’s tooth out and slamming people into the boards. The crowd goes wild and gives him a standing ovation.
Sean Avery signed a $15.5 million deal for four years with the Dallas Stars.
He only has 171 points in a career which started in 2001. In comparison, Sidney Crosby, who has been in the league for four years, has more than 300.
So why was a non-productive player signed?
Because he can fight.
Peoria Rivemen coach Davis Payne said he feels the fighting is sometimes necessary.
“I feel that fighting is used as a deterrent in the event the one player uses any of these things or his body to take advantage on another player that is put in a dangerous situation,” he said.
Avery isn’t the only player to be signed for this reason – each team always has an “enforcer,” which is a classier term for “brawler.”
“At times it can be unnecessary and at times necessary,”Payne said.
Switch over to the MLB and as recently as this month there were players ready to fight each other because of pitches being thrown at Shane Victorino’s head.
It was OK though, because, like hockey, it’s part of the game. Fighting and bench-clearing brawls are used to stand up for the team as a whole and to show players don’t take crap from anybody.
Jump on over to the NBA and flashback to when Anthony and the Denver Nuggets got in the aforementioned fight with the Knicks. The following day, sports media were in a ruckus saying basketball is out of control.
So how are some sports able to get away with playing dirty and fighting?
Because those sports have a higher percentage of white players.
Eight percent of baseball is populated by black players Chip Caray said during the MLB playoffs.
Between 1958 and 1991 only 18 black players reached the NHL, according to league reports.
The reigning NBA champions, the Boston Celtics, started zero people of Caucasian decent.
The NFL has the healthiest mix of ethnicity in all the major sports, but 65 percent are black, according to the book, “Taboo: Why Black Athletes Dominate Sports and Why We’re Afraid to Talk About It.”
It is not just a mere coincidence the leagues which have more black people are criticized more for fighting.
Every once in a while, black players are brought into the positive spotlight, but once they do one thing remotely out of the norm, they are automatically a target for the media to pick apart.
Take Steven Jackson of the St. Louis Rams for example. His first couple of years he kept quiet and didn’t say too much when Marc Bulger, a white player, got a whopping new contract.
Bulger thought he deserved a better contract so he got it. What does Jackson do before the start of this season? He decides he wants to be paid more as well, but before he can attain it, the media jumps on him as greedy, selfish and hounding for money.
Take a trip back to the ALCS in 2003, which pitted the Boston Red Sox against the New York Yankees. The benches cleared in Game 3.
Don Zimmer kicks dirt back in place and makes a full charge as if he is a bull at Pedro Martinez. Martinez, in an act of self-defense, whips out a red sheet and yells “Toro!” and pushes Zimmer down to the ground. Well, he didn’t really didn’t yell “Toro!” or have a red sheet, but it would have been awesome if he did.
The new morning arises after the brawl, and Martinez is the one being attacked in papers. True, Zimmer is really old, but the man looks as tough as nails and brought it upon himself. Just because he is old doesn’t mean Martinez should have let Zimmer spear him.
The NFL seems to have things under control when it comes to fighting, but those obnoxious hits John Lynch delivered in his prime were considered OK, because he was just showing the other team not to mess with the safety. When Ray Lewis delivers an illegal hit, he is bombarded by media attacks.
If there is fighting in one sport, why can’t it exist in all sports? Put Avery in some football gear and have him fly loose to the quarterback and knock his block off. Or better yet, put him on the court and when Lebron James goes to dunk, knock his legs out from under him.
Maybe one day I’ll be able to see Tim Duncan duke it out with Kevin Garnett and there will be no repercussions the following day. Or perhaps hockey will look less like the movie “Slapshot” and more like “Miracle.”
Dru Tate is a junior journalism major from Overland, Mo. He is the Scout assistant sports editor.
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