This fall the intersection of sports and criminal behaviour have mixed again and sadly teams and schools seem to lack the integrity to take a stand. In October Colorado Avalanche starting goalie was arrested for brutally attacking his girlfriend, while the case has yet to be brought to trial the Avalanche have done something in a form of a punishment, just telling him no more alcohol. What message does this send if your a important athlete you can get away with assaulting people?
Even schools are scared to take action for fear of losing millions in revenue. Florida State is on the verge of playing in the BCS national championship game where the two teams each receive a $22million payout and countless publicity. The starting quarterback and probable Hesiman trophy winner has been accused of sexually assaulting a fellow student. Police have dragged their feet according to media reports and the victim says she was warned that “this is a big football town”. Imagine being a female student or a parent of one, elite athletes seem to be above the law. The school is willing to give up morals for the precious Crystal ball and win the Championship.
The New England Patriots showed that sometimes you need to take a stand in these situations. Before Aaron Hernandez was arrested and the situation was looking grim they cut the Pro Bowl tight end and one of the most important and valuable members of the team. Criminal behaviour wont be tolerated by the Patriots organization. Finally at a significant costs they allowed fans to return Hernandez jerseys free of charge for a new jersey.
More organizations need to act the Patriots, sometimes its just not worth it giving up your moral compass to win.
There has been a lot of speculation recently that Jon Bon Jovi has been looking into buying the Buffalo Bills National Football team. Bon Jovi has recently been connected to Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment in his attempts to further his attempts to buy the team. Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment, under NFL rules and regulations, is unable to purchase the team themselves as the rule states that only an individual and not a corporation can own a team. This is where the connection to Jon Bon Jovi comes in as MLSE can still play a role in building a new facility to house the team without owning the team outright and still be involved in the team. Its unlikely however that the team will be sold by its current owner any time soon.
Forgetting about the fact that the team may not even be sold, I believe that moving a team into Toronto will not be as successful as they believe it will be. There will be direct competition to the CFL’s Toronto Argonaughts who have established a very large fan base in the Toronto area, and many people feel that the introduction of an NFL team into Canada will only hurt the CFL. The Bills have had games here in Toronto for the past few years, and year after year the attendance levels of the games have steadily declined. With that being said what do those statistics say for the success a permanent team would have in the city?
Do you think Toronto can support an NFL team?
Should a new stadium be built to accommodate them?
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Today the Canadian World Junior Championship selection camp roster was released which includes twenty-five Canadian hopefuls looking to crack an opening day roster spot in Malmo, Sweden on Boxing Day. The selection camp will be hosted in Etobicoke, Ontario and consists of fifteen forwards, eight defensemen and two goaltenders, in which two forwards and one defensemen will have to be cut to make the final roster.
There are many notable players that cracked the selection camp roster such as Jonathan Drouin, Matthew Dumba, Aaron Ekbald, Sam Reinhart and Connor McDavid. Drouin was the third overall pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, Dumba was a first round pick in the same draft, but is the only player currently on an NHL roster. Ekbald and Reinhart are two of the top prospects getting set for the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, and Connor McDavid is the very highly touted prospect that is expected to go first overall in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.
However, what is so important about this twenty-five man selection camp roster is how it is changed from how it was done previously. In the past Hockey Canada had given out forty camp invitations to skaters and another four to goaltenders. I assume that the reasoning behind the smaller selection camp roster size, is to give Hockey Canada and coach Brent Sutter a better look at the players that were named to this roster, but also for the players to become a closer, tight knit group. However, there is still nineteen less invitations that got sent out, and I ask you if you think it is fair for Hockey Canada to do this?
The National Football League (NFL) took a hit today, but this time it was not on the field but rather in the parking lot. An unidentified man was killed today in the parking lot of Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri during the Kansas City Chiefs and Denver Broncos game. The Los Angeles Times article states that the victim died from a struggle with two other people and a homicide investigation is currently underway. This is not the first time we have seen violence in the parking lots of big league and stadiums. In 2011, a San Francisco Giants fan was beaten into a coma by Los Angeles Dodgers fans following a Giants/Dodgers game in Los Angeles. On November 11th of this year, a twenty one year-old man was beaten in the parking lot of University of Utah’s football stadium causing skull fractures.
Although these parking lot incidents seem to be a fairly rare occurrence, a question still remains: should the parking lots of big league and college stadiums have a stronger security presence? Having attended many Major League Baseball and National Hockey League games, I have noticed that there is security in the parking lots, however, security personnel tend to be located closer to the stadium. The majority of these parking lots are very large and it is easy for security to miss any incidents that occur in areas of the parking lots that are furthest away from the stadium. Realistically, it is difficult to monitor the entire perimeter of these large parking lots but major league and college teams should tighten their policy on fan security by having a greater security presence in these parking lots. Whether that entails more security personnel in these parking lots, ensuring the mobility of the security members or installing surveillance cameras in the parking lots, this will be up to the leagues and teams. What parent will want to spend money and bring their child to a game if they have a fear of their safety before they even enter the stadium? This is an issue that must be dealt at the league level and I believe that the incident that occurred earlier today in Kansas City might spark a change in security policies across the NFL and other big league and college sports.
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The NFL is currently reviewing Thursday night’s game between the Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers. During a kick return by Baltimore’s Jacoby Jones, the Steelers head coach, Mike Tomlin, stepped on to the field seemingly to purposely distract Jones and slow down his progress towards the end zone. There has been non final decision to come out of the NFL headquarters but there has been talk that Tomlin’s “mockery of the game” could cost the Steeler’s organization a draft pick in the upcoming draft and result in a large fine and possible suspension.
Is this possible punishment too harsh? In my opinion, retracting a draft pick from the organization is too harsh of a consequence. This is Mike Tomlin’s fault and the organization should not have to handle the backlash for his poor decision. A draft pick is very valuable to an organization and can negatively affect a team for years. Mike Tomlin has openly admitted that he made a mistake, adding this: “I do it quite often, like everybody else in the National Football League,” Tomlin told news reporters. “I was wrong. I accept responsibility for it.”
A similar on-field/on-court incident occurred recently in the NBA with Brooklyn Nets’ coach Jason Kidd. He purposely poured a drink onto the court to gain an extra timeout for his team. The NBA moved very quickly and came to the decision to fine the coach $50, 000. This poses the question, why is it taking the NFL so long to come to a decision on the Mike Tomlin incident?
Tomlin deserves to face a suspension or large fine; he compromised the integrity of the game. He is a head coach in the NFL and is held to a high standard. This type of behaviour cannot be tolerated. Although the Steelers lost the game and a possible playoff spot in the process, this is an incident that requires attention. This issue can be closely tied to the New York Jets assistant coach and Nolan Carroll of the Miami Dolphins. The coach intentionally tripped Carroll during a punt return and faced a lengthy suspension without pay. Although Tomlin did not make direct contact with Jacoby Jones, it did look clear that he affected the play.
Major League Baseball (MLB) is currently dealing with the issue of pitchers being struck in the head from a baseball. This issue is a hot topic surrounding the MLB in which people are looking for a solution. The solution people are looking for is for the MLB to come up with a policy for pitchers to wear mandatory protective headgear to prevent injuries to the head. Only batters in the MLB are required to wear helmets during the game which creates another debate on why they are only required to wear helmets instead of the pitchers as well. Anything can happen once the batter makes contact with the ball and with the pitchers throwing so hard, it makes the ball come off the bat even harder. Many MLB pitchers are on board with making protective headgear an option for pitchers, including pitcher Brandon McCarthy. Brandon McCarthy was the first pitcher to get hit in the head with a line drive, which started the discussion of how to protect pitchers’ heads during the game. Brandon McCarthy was struck in the head by a line drive in September of 2012 in Oakland. McCarthy through his pitch and the batter hit a hard line drive to McCarthy’s head, with no chance of protecting himself. McCarthy suffered severe head injuries, including a seizure and a concussion, which prompted the MLB to quickly discuss solutions to this on-going problem. After McCarthy’s injury, it seemed to start a trend for pitchers. Last year, the MLB sustained 3 injuries to pitchers heads. These 3 pitchers were J.A. Happ, Doug Fister, and Alex Cobb, in which 2 out the 3 were taken off in a stretcher and missed a significant amount of the season. Pitchers are jeopardizing their careers by not wearing some kind of protection on their heads. McCarthy was lucky to walk away with the injuries he sustained and was lucky to pitch again in the MLB. These injuries will continue to happen unless the MLB can introduce protective headgear for pitchers.
Many people ask what type of protection MLB pitchers would wear. MLB pitchers would be required to wear some sort of padding underneath their ball hats that prevents serious injuries to the brain. This protective helmet would have to meet the pitchers requirements as they would not want to wear equipment that will jeopardize their pitching. These protective headgears will need to be light and durable so pitchers feel the same as they did without wearing the protective headgear. Also, players have to come to an agreement whether they should allow protective headgear to be worn in the MLB. Pitchers rely on their stats and care about winning, and if protective headgear alters there pitching, they may have no choice than to say no to the mandatory protective headgear.
Should the MLB adapt this policy for pitchers to wear mandatory protective headgear?
In the required reading “Hoops and Wheels” by Ronald J. Berger, Berger outlines a different form of discrimination: ableism. Ableism is described by the author as able bodied athletes being perceived by people as superior while disabled athletes are viewed as inferior. Berger also analyzes the question “what is sport?” under the sociology lens and concludes by stating that there is no unanimously agreed upon definition of sport. If there is no agreed upon definition of sport, then why are able bodied athletics seen as superior to disabled athletes? How can society shed this notion of ableism?
This notion of ableism as discussed by Berger parallels a similar form of discrimination in sports: sexism. Female athletes do not get nearly the amount of respect that male athletes receive and a large portion of sports fan discredit professional women sport leagues like the WNBA and the LPGA. As a society, we seem to have this stigma towards athletes who are not able bodied males (with a few exceptions). This has resulted in a lack of exposure for high performance disabled sports in both the NCAA and the Paralympics.
Sports like wheelchair basketball are left to tread water as their lack of exposure leaves them with limited sources of revenue and thus little room for growth. People do not understand the difficulty and skill level needed to compete in these “disabled sports” and they will never understand if society continues this notion of ableism. Perhaps we should give these “ableists” an opportunity to participate in disabled sports so they can understand that the difficulty and skill required to perform these sports equals and sometimes exceeds that of traditional sports. More respect needs to be given by society to “disabled athletics” and I believe it all begins with more advertisement and television exposure. Otherwise, we as sport consumers will continue to miss out on some highly entertaining and skilled sports.