In contact sports, such as football and hockey, it is not uncommon to see players suffer injuries.
On a Monday Night Football game in November, Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett attacked Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph with a helmet. The helmet connected with Rudolph’s head and he suffered a concussion.
Malicious acts of violence in sports have no part in the game and should be dealt with severely.
As of right now, the worst result an athlete may expect is a fine or a suspension, which is what happened to Garrett.
That is not enough.
Jeffrey Standen, a sports law professor at Northern Kentucky University, says acts of violence that take place on the playing field are treated in an entirely different manner from an assault that would normally result in criminal prosecution if it were to occur away from the playing field. On the field, these acts of violence are considered “part of the game.”
Violence should not be considered “part of the game” but rather as a criminal assault.
In order for the public to understand why such behaviours occur in sports, the first thing they need to know is what is considered an act of aggression.
The legalities change from country to country and even state to state but according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, aggression is defined as a hostile or destructive behavior caused by frustration.
While physicality is a common occurrence in sports, malicious acts should have far more serious consequences. They violate not only the formal rules of sport but also informal norms of player conduct.
If aggression leads a player to act maliciously to an opponent, it could lead to a serious injury.
In 2000, Boston Bruins enforcer Marty McSorley swung his stick at the head of Vancouver Canucks forward Donald Brashear. As a result of that vengeful attack, Brashear suffered a seizure on the ice and was diagnosed with a grade 3 concussion.
McSorley was tried in a British Columbia court and was found guilty of assault with a deadly weapon, but was not banned from the NHL.
Leagues and laws need to align.
The situation with McSorley ended up in a trial but Garrett just walked away without any legal repercussions.
Violent acts should not be tolerated and the way to do this is to litigate. Whatever is decided criminally is what the league should move forward with.
Immoral actions such as Garrett attacking a rival player with a helmet and McSorley swinging a hockey stick to the skull of an opponent have no place in the game.
In order for changes to be made in sports, the commissioner of their respective leagues should apply lifetime bans to any athlete partaking in acts detrimental to the sport and those actions should be dealt with criminally.
If the leagues do not act upon these heinous crimes, serious injuries like the one’s suffered by Rudolph and Brashear will continue to occur and the image of the sport will be tarnished.