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The sticky sports bubble
The sticky sports bubble
The size of the bubble university students dwell in would make even the most ambitous six-year-old Hubba-Bubba chomper proud. The world of sports also exists in its own tight little bubble and it can get pretty sticky.
The problem with the sports bubble is, from time to time, the outside world comes knocking. The recent controversy surrounding Western football player Philippe Beaudry and the complaint he filed with equity services over an incident with Mustangs head coach Larry Haylor is a prime example.
Beaudry said Haylor was verbally abusive toward him. If this is indeed the case and this incident had occurred between professor X and student Y, it would be a very different scenario. A professor berating a student is an open and shut case. A football coach tears a strip off one of his players and suddenly there's more grey area than on my grandfather's head.
Sports are a safe haven for things that cannot otherwise occur in society without serious consequences.
On a sheet of ice, in the presence of 20,000 of your fellow human beings, you can settle your differences by attempting to pound your foe into submission. In the work place, that sort of thing is frowned upon.
As a society, we seem to be pretty willing to give sports figures the freedom to behave as they please. Nobody who has watched more than five minutes of sports hasn't seen a coach unleash a verbal tirade on a player, referee or fellow coach.
We've all witnessed acts by players in a multitude of sports that should be inconceivable in a modern society, but we look the other way in the name of healthy competition.
The willful blindness extends to the way people are treated emotionally. Sports at an elite level speaks only the language of results. Any tactic within the bounds of sanity is considered fair game if it gets precious, precious results. Coaches are under immense pressure to extract the most from their players, so some take a hard line approach.
Scotty Bowman is the most successful coach in NHL history. Steve Shutt, a member of the Montreal Canadiens team that Bowman guided to four straight Stanley Cups, once said at the height of the Hab's success that the team was unified by one thing no matter what was going on, the team was always unified in their severe distaste for Bowman.
Results continued to follow.
Still, there are occasions when the outside world insists on intervening.
A hockey player like Claude Lemeiux drills fellow player Kris Draper from behind, mangling his face and forcing him to eat through a straw for a summer and all of a sudden people start looking for those lines that are so skewed by the warped world of sport to begin with.
Sport must, like anything else, be held to some form of a standard. But unless those standards are rigidly set across the board, cases similar to Beaudry's are going to continue to occur.
Either society should let sport be its own sovereign entity as it already is to a large degree or we should ask its participants to uphold the same model of behavior we ask of all citizens.
Like anything else in life, it's virtually impossible to have it both ways. Sorry to burst your bubble.