In today’s culture, sports and sports rivalries consume much of our small talk with friends and coworkers.
Athletic events transcend cultural differences and make us feel connected to people we otherwise wouldn’t associate with.
However, when athletes playing in these events participate in fights or brawls, it takes away from the true intent of the game and why as a society we love sports.
Two weeks ago, the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers faced off in a bitter rivalry game that had potential playoff implications for both teams.
With just eight seconds remaining on the clock and the game out of reach for the Steelers, a fight broke out. Cleveland’s Myles Garrett ripped the helmet off Pittsburgh quarterback Mason Rudolph’s head.
Garrett then continued the altercation by hitting Rudolph over the head with his own helmet.
The exchange lasted just a few seconds but was the only thing spectators talked about in the days following.
Not only does this overly aggressive behavior have no place in our modern sports, it is also dangerous and can lead to both professional athletes and fans getting hurt.
Last week marked the fifteenth anniversary of the infamous “Malice at the Palace,” a professional basketball game between the Detroit Pistons and Indiana Pacers.
Similar to the fight that occurred between the Browns and Steelers, tensions were running high with less than a minute left in the game when a fight broke out.
As the referees attempted to control the players, a fan threw a beverage at Indiana’s Ron Artest.
This eventually led to Artest attacking a fan who wasn’t responsible for throwing the beverage.
If you were to ask anyone who watched “Malice at the Palace” about which team won the game, they probably wouldn’t be able to tell you.
This will likely be the outcome of the Cleveland-Pittsburgh brawl as well, since just a few seconds of negativity overcast an entire game of close football.
In both fights, the respective leagues fined teams and players millions of dollars for damaging their brand.
This is largely due to the fact that parents bring their kids to these events and don’t want their kids, who see these athletes as role models, to behave this way.
Although these fights are not overly common in occurrence, it seems every sport has at least one major brawl a season that guides the attention away from the true meaning of the sport.
This is further damaging to teams and fans alike, as star players are forced to sit out of games.
In the case of the Browns-Steelers fight, Garrett was suspended indefinitely. He was the first overall draft pick in 2017 and one of the league’s most loved players.
Athletes fighting each other over a game is ridiculously unnecessary and takes away from the value that athletics adds to our society.