NHL and NFL Need to Put an End to Dirty Plays

Anthony PucikCorrespondent IJanuary 22, 2012

PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 8:   James Harrison #92 of the Pittsburgh Steelers tackles  Colt McCoy #12 of the Cleveland Browns during the game on December 8, 2011 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  The Steelers won 14-3.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Sports are fun to watch and are enjoyed by many. Unfortunately, accidents can happen and people can get injured.

As a fan, whether the player is on your team or against your team, you never want to see a player get hurt severely. With that being said, every sports league does its best to keep their players safe at all costs.

However, despite sports leagues' attempts to prevent injuries, they keep occurring. In football, it is helmet-to-helmet collisions that lead to concussions, and in some severe cases, life-threatening injuries. In hockey, it is blindside checks into the boards and hits that cause a player to fall on the ice or into the boards awkwardly and severely hurt them.

The latest victim of such "dirty plays" was New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh in yesterdays game against the Boston Bruins. McDonagh was going for the puck behind the net when Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference hit him while his back was to the boards.

McDonagh was down for a while before he was able to get up and skate over to the locker room with his trainer. Ference was given a five-minute major and a game misconduct as a result of the hit.

On the power play resulting from the hit, the Rangers Marion Gaborik scored with 3.2 seconds left in overtime to defeat the Bruins, but McDonagh's injury left a bittersweet feeling. Ference was suspended three games and fined for the hit today.

 While I am happy that Ference was suspended for injuring McDonagh, I think that more needs to be done to prevent hits like this from occurring, both in the NHL and the NFL.

I do think that the NHL and NFL are going in the right direction, giving the players penalties and making them deal with suspension in some cases, but the problem does not lie with people like Ference; it lies in people who are repeat offenders.

People in the NHL, like Matt Cooke, who can always be looked toward for a dirty, and people in the NFL, like the Steelers' James Harrison, who are constantly leading with their helmets when making tackles should receive harsher penalties for their actions.

Earlier in the season, Harrison went helmet first into Cleveland Browns quarterback Colt McCoy, giving him a concussion. The NFL suspended Harrison one game for the hit.

However, Harrison is a repeat offender. This is not the first time Harrison has gotten in trouble with the NFL for dirty or malicious hits.

People like Harrison in the NFL and people like Cooke in the NHL are detrimental to the sport and are a serious problem. They have the potential to get someone seriously hurt, and each league's rules do not do enough to protect their players.

If a person is a repeat offender of dirty hits in the NHL, he should be suspended greater depending on whether the hit seemed intentional and how far apart the incidents were. If a player has more than one suspension in a month, he should be suspended for at least 10 games.

The same goes for people in the NFL. If a player puts more than one helmet-to-helmet hit on a player in a year, he should be suspended four games his second time.

These penalties may seem a bit harsh, but it is the only way that the players will learn. If the rules that are in place right now are not stopping hits like these from occurring, then the penalties must be harsher so that the players understand that it is not a joke.

I understand accidents happen, but repeat offenders like Cooke and Harrison rarely have accidental career-threatening hits. In order to preserve the games that we love to watch, the leagues must protect their players better than they are right now.