Monday, April 9, 2012

Poll: What is the most violent sport?

This guy has recently become the poster child for all that's wrong in sports - specifically in football.
I'm not going to re-hash stuff we already know. Gregg Williams and the New Orleans Saints are in hot water with the NFL and they'll have the coming season and beyond to figure out how to fix things. Paying players to intentionally hurt other players is wrong - period. Anyone who thinks otherwise should consider being evaluated by a mental health professional. That being said, there is an increasingly vocal crowd of football fans, commentators and players who think football is inherently violent and the Saints' situation is nothing unique. Included in the argument is the thought that football will look less like football without the violence.

Sports with a high degree of physicality have to walk a fine line. They will always have their hardcore followers. However, they must find a way to keep the die-hards happy while appealing to the mainstream. Boxing matches used to go 100 rounds or more. They were cut to 15 - then 12 for championship matches. Why? Because arguably the greatest boxer of all-time, Muhammad Ali, can't get around by himself anymore. He has become a casualty of the "wars" he had in the ring. By today's standards, Ali would have lost The Rumble in the Jungle against George Foreman. There's no way a modern referee would allow a fighter to get pounded on for seven rounds straight. Ali was being beaten mercilessly by a bigger, stronger opponent.

The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and mixed martial arts (MMA) have become more popular in recent years. UFC fighters are skilled wrestlers, strikers and martial artists. Bear in mind that what you see now is not where the sport began. Fights included hair-pulling, punching in the back of the head, and groin strikes. Yes, groin strikes were perfectly legal in the old days. Football is no different. Two old football manuevers I know were legal in my dad's day were the 'headslap' and the 'clothesline.' Former L.A. Rams great Deacon Jones would use the headslap on opposing offensive lineman. Imagine a guy like Vince Wilfork headslapping you favorite team's center. Better yet, imagine Ray Lewis delivering a clothesline to your team's running back. "Now introducing....the headless 32...!"  You get the picture. A sport doesn't become less of a sport by protecting the people who play it.

Given the conversation, what do you think is the most violent sport? I've constructed a poll to take the pulse of Sportsmanship Blog readers. Vote early and vote often. You can also use our Facebook comment section below to provide an opinion beyond your vote. Think about why you watch certain sports. Do you really want a guy to get hurt? Brigitte Nielsen's character from Rocky IV had an interesting quote when describing athletes: "Remember, they're sportsmen - not soldiers." Until next time...

Be a Good Sport!


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