When a little competition gets violent

Brenna McNamara

This past Sunday I was relaxing on the couch at my house watching the incredibly intellectually stimulating “Next,” when my mom rudely interrupted me so I could read a newspaper article. I thought it would be another tragic teenage story serving as a moral lesson not to drink and drive, but this time my mom surprised me with an article of interest.

My attention was captured right away when I saw the name of a grade school friend in the first sentence; let’s just call her Sue. Apparently “Sue” was suing another basketball player $200,000 for elbowing her during a game. $200,000?! Hmm, definitely not the typical article my mom has me read.

Reading further, I learned the two were approaching the end of a game when Sue grabbed and pulled a competitor’s shirt with the intention of stopping the clock. Much to Sue’s dismay, the opposition threw an elbow and broke her nose. Hence the civil case.

Just a little background — Sue is the kind of girl guys were scared of in grade school. Heck, I was scared of her. But in all fairness, I was the girl whose home was the bench, while she wowed everyone with her Michael Jordan-esque skills (and Mike Tyson-esque temper). No one would put it past this girl to be more than aggressive on the court. After telling my roommate this story, even she said Sue trampled her during a game senior year, causing numerous chiropractic bills.

That being said, I am not going to pretend I know exactly what happened in this particular game. I do know the Ohio High School Athletic Association determined Sue’s competitor’s elbowing was not an intentional act, yet she is, nonetheless, filing the civil suit anyway.

The elbow could have been intentional; but I don’t believe it would have been used without reason. Granted, I know hardly anything about sports, but if my shirt were pulled (and knowing Sue, it would have been more of a Hercules-like yank), my instinct would be to flail around like a fish out of water as well, not realizing there was a nose in the way of my whirling arm.

Sue’s lawyer said that many young athletes are emulating the pros, becoming more aggressive. But let’s not pretend that Sue is some innocent victim of another player’s violence. All across the board, violence has replaced values of sportsmanship and fairness. Nowadays, parents fist fight during games, coaches beat up umpires and drivers follow people who cut them off all the way back to their houses.

Let’s face it — basketball is a contact sport. Factoring in these recent trends of success, winning and dominance being admired themes in American living, one can only assume that fouls might occur during a routine basketball game. This should not be the case, but our society has unfortunately decided to let even high school athletics be marred by uncontrolled tempers and the need to win. How unfortunate.

If pulling a shirt is an accepted part of the game, obviously this leaves room and justification for an escalation. Judging from Sue’s record of aggressiveness, she of all people should have been prepared. If Sue was looking for less of a contact sport, perhaps she should have looked into ping pong (of course with safety goggles at hand).

Brenna McNamara is a freshman prejournalism major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].