Brawls in baseball, football players knocking over coaches and showboating, elite tennis players spouting off.
And those are just the examples of athletes around the world demonstrating their poor behaviour in the last week, leading to the obvious conclusion – just how much of a pedestal are they putting themselves on because they play games for a living.
While this column is focusing on the professional athlete, this bad acting isn’t limited to them. There have been numerous stories in the media about amateur and youth sports seeing a rise in unsportsmanlike behaviours by coaches, players, fans and parents. The issue is also being widely seen in other areas of every day life as well, but for now, its the ones making their hay off the wallets of paying fans that is attracting the most attention.
For us Canadian sports fans, mention the name Duron Carter and the first thing that pops up isn’t about him being one of the top receivers in the Canadian Football League. Nope, its the fact he made spectacular touchdown catch against the Ottawa Red Blacks (huh? but that’s a topic for another time) and then proceeded to show off in front of their bench, knocking down the Red Blacks head coach in the process followed by deliberately walking into their bench area in what could only be described as an obvious attempt to further provoke his opponents.
Only the work of the nearby officials, combined with the great restraint of many Red Blacks players, staved off a dangerous brawl the likes of which haven’t been seen since the 2003 incident between the Edmonton Eskimos and Calgary Stampeders on Labour Day.
Rightfully so, Carter was turfed from the game, not before he spout off to the television cameras about how he didn’t do anything and then continued that questionable defense with the media when the game was over.
His attitude displayed an arrogance that can only be measured by a shovel and a wheelbarrow, plus one that stems from being placed on too high a horse for too long and needs to be knocked out from under him. It also isn’t something that young players should look upon to emulate as even though that believe they are great enough eventually find they aren’t worth the hype or the trouble anymore.
Canada’s other summer past-time – baseball – hasn’t been immune from this syndrome either, as several Toronto Blue Jays players were sent to early showers in a game last week which ended up being a monumental lose in 19 innings. The three ejections – Russel Martin, Edwin Encarnacion and manager John Gibbons – resulted from arguing calls by the plate umpire that may have been questionable.
Okay, now having been a baseball umpire for more than two decades (insert your own joke here since you’ll do it anyway), there are going to be times when you will miss a call. That’s the game, but going ballistic over a pitch that may or may not be what you think it is – especially when you’re making millions – certainly doesn’t go over well with some fans and makes you look terrible.
Sure, the game can be emotion-fueled and sometimes people explode, but how much better can it be to walk away and funnel that energy into making that next play or during the next at-bat and potentially turning the game on a dime in your favour.
Instead, the game goes more than double its length, your club uses two non-pitchers on the mound late in the game and you lose. That certainly doesn’t help the Blue Jays as they work on staying in the race in the American League Least, oh sorry I mean East.
Last, and I wish it was the least, Australian tennis star Nick Kyrgios went on several rants during his time at the prestigious Wimbledon Grand Slam event, before he was eventually bounced in the fourth round by Britain’s Andy Murray.
His display of arguing calls, inflicting the media after matches with a holier-than-thou and ‘what gives you the right to question me’ attitude and generally ignoring the rules of tennis in the match versus Murray demonstrates all that is wrong with some in the game today.
It isn’t, by far, the way a lot of players carry themselves. However, unfortunately it’s what is portrayed to the masses through the sports media since more and more, that’s how they can gain audiences.
And for their parts, the leagues and bodies that oversee such sports either fail to take the proper measures to discourage players behaving badly or simply refuse in light of the financial consequences that will come from a star not playing.
A correction may come only when fans start talking with their wallets and the media place their focus back on the game instead of the individuals in it.
But that is…just an observation.