The idiosyncrasies of sport: Part 1

Exploring five things in sports that make no sense.

Why are you fighting? Just play hockey. - Photo credit / Radio Canada International

By: Grant Simms, SFU Student

I love sports for a variety of reasons. The intensity of competition, the extraordinary range of athletic abilities on display, and the unpredictability are just some of the reasons sports are so popular. But, as fantastic as they are, there are bound to be some ugly patches. Like anything beautiful, sports has its imperfections. Some things that athletes and team managers partake in make no sense, yet, for whatever reason, these traditions and practices haven’t gone away (yet). Here’s a list of five annoying, pointless and/or irritating elements of sports. 

  1. Fighting in hockey

Why? Just, why? How this still happens in a league with such an otherwise high professional standard baffles me. Fighting adds absolutely nothing to the sport, and makes hockey players look like a bunch of immature idiots who need to go back to kindergarten. But, then again, it’s not just the players — it’s also the league that sanctions this behaviour. While many other sports move to decrease physicality and contact, preferring an increased emphasis on agility and athleticism, hockey continues to have refs stand in a circle around a couple of guys while they engage in a bare-knuckle fight for zero competitive advantage. If I wanted to see that, I’d be watching boxing. It’s not just the pointlessness of the fighting that grinds my gears either.  There’s also the arguably racist double standard that allows this to occur in hockey without a second thought, but once something similar happens in the NBA, suddenly, they’re a league of criminals.

  1. Throwing at hitters in baseball

If you want to teach little kids how to be sore losers, then have them watch baseball.  Why do pitchers intentionally throw at relatively defenseless batters, risking serious injury or death? What, because he hit a home run off of you? He flipped his bat? Made you feel embarrassed, and, because you have the emotional control of a petulant child, you decide you’re going to try to seriously injure or kill him? Many careers have ended due batters being hit by pitches. I firmly believe that any baseball player who engages in pegging should be banned for life. There’s simply no place for this in sports. It’s basically the equivalent of Cobra Kai sweeping Daniel Larusso’s leg in Karate Kid. 

  1. Paying running backs (a lot) in football

The league has changed. It’s a relatively simple development — the analytics show that passing more is generally beneficial and rushers are needed to supplement the pass. That’s going to hold true as long as teams keep winning Super Bowls without employing top running backs. All paying a running back big money does, at this point, is show that you don’t understand how team building works, and that you’re too lazy or ineffective to scout the nine viable backs that come out of college each year ready and able to play in the league.

  1. Giving league titles value in soccer

Are we done giving Manchester City plaudits because they beat lower tier teams like Huddersfield year after year? For a variety of reasons, such as budget and reputation, they’re supposed to, but it doesn’t mean that they’re any better than the other clubs around the world who do the same in their own leagues. Credit should be given for winning the biggest games against the best teams in the world, not for beating a bunch of teams whose transfer budget is a tenth of your own.

  1. The average team in NBA basketball

If you’re an NBA team that’s not in New York, Chicago, Boston, LA, Miami, or San Francisco, you’re not getting free agents without already having a star player. To teams like Indiana, San Antonio, and others: thanks for playing, but unless you’ve got a Zion that will help you attract free agents like moths to a flame, you’d be better off tanking with the aim of drafting a superstar that can attract other high level talent.