Wednesday, December 7

Controlled Violence: Where is the line drawn?

Sports, especially contact sports like football and hockey, are one of the only places in America where it is legal to assault people. Where is the line drawn, though, when the violence becomes excessive?

Ndamukong Suh’s “stomp heard ‘round the world” has only enhanced his label as a dirty player. The Detroit Lions defensive tackle was ejected from the nationally televised Thanksgiving football game after he stomped on the arm of a Green Bay Packers player. In addition to being ejected, Suh was suspended two games by NFL commissioner Rodger Goodell, who has disciplined Suh numerous times during his short stint in the NFL.

Suh has been a repeat offender of receiving ‘unnecessary roughness penalties’ for his hits on opposing quarterbacks. He has ripped off quarterback’s helmets, body slammed quarterbacks in preseason games, and delivered forearm blows to the heads of his opponents. Suh has also been fined of thousands of dollars, $42,500 so far, for these various personal fouls. At what point will this excessive violence ruin Suh’s career, not to mention his sponsorships, which include Chrysler and Subway?
Ndamukong Suh stomps on the right arm of Packer's guard Evan Dietrich-Smith. Photo: CBS

An immature but talented quarterback quarterback for Virginia Tech, Marcus Vick, younger brother of the Philadelphia Eagles Mike Vick, was seen as a player with NFL potential. However, in 2006, Vick was dismissed from the team after stomping on a defenseless player during the Gator Bowl. Vick wasn’t bothered by the move, assuring himself that the NFL would be his next step. “It’s not a big deal,” Vick was quoted as saying, “I’ll just move onto the next level, baby.”

His move to the next level wasn’t as glamorous as expected, as he went undrafted in the 2006 NFL Draft. He signed as an undrafted free agent with the Miami Dolphins but was shortly cut afterwards. Vick has never surfaced in the NFL again, only making the news from time to time for various legal troubles.

In 2000, Marty McSorley was an enforcer for the Boston Bruins of the NHL. His job, in addition to skating and playing hockey, was to protect his star teammates by getting into fights, fights that are within the rules of the NHL. These fights have an unwritten code, with players usually deciding ahead of time that they would like to fight.

On February 21, 2000, McSorley was skating behind a Washington Capitals player, Donald Brashear, with only seconds left in the game. He swung his stick at Brashear’s head, striking his exposed left temple. Brashear was knocked unconscious and suffered further injury when his head struck the ice. Brashear suffered a grade 3 concussion (on a scale of 1-4) and McSorley was suspended for the rest of the 1999-2000 season, which amounted out to 23 games.

Further legal action was taken, though, and in October of that same year, McSorley was found guilty of assault with a weapon, and the NHL increased his suspension to another full season. McSorley never played in the NHL again.

Violence is undoubtedly a part of sport, but there is a line that is crossed all too often by players, regardless of their league. Before Suh’s stomping incident, he was voted one of the dirtiest players in the NFL. The poll, done by Sports Illustrated, wasn't voted on by the media, but by his fellow NFL players.

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