Before we put to bed the “Bountygate” scandal, let’s take a look at how this incident plays out in other sports.
If you’re not familiar with the story, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell recently suspended players for their role in the New Orleans Saints' “cash-reward” program that paid bonuses for purposely injuring key opponents in games from 2009-11.
Did the league overreact?
Well, we have seen an increased number of concussions being sustained in the NFL, as the league is facing a number of lawsuits from former players, who felt the NFL didn’t provide enough information on the risk of playing with head injuries.
Goodell can emphasize the importance of protecting the players from ultimately themselves, but it will be hard to outlaw or prevent a bounty system from occurring again, either in football or another sport.
If you’re looking for the bounty system in the NHL, then look no further than the goon on each team’s roster. First, you have to understand that fighting and physical play is an important part of the game. It’s foolish to think you can successfully remove this aspect from hockey.
In the old days of the NHL, teams didn’t carry a player who simply could fight on their roster. Gordie Howe was one of the best players to ever play in the NHL, but he also was one of the nastiest on-ice individuals to ever put on the skates. Fast forward to modern times, Brendan Shanahan regularly scored 50 goals and posted 200 penalty minutes in a given season.
These types of players no longer exist in today’s NHL, as goons often go four years without scoring a goal. Often, they sit on the end of bench and only hit the ice when order is needed to be restored.
It seems that every NBA player is showboating on each offensive possession.
If a bounty system were in place in basketball, it would call for a hard foul to take place later in the game, as defenders are trying to send a direct message to their opponent. Now, the intent isn't to injure but rather to cut out the nonsense in the game.
Some critics will say this is acting without class, as this is the NBA and not a backyard game against your younger brother. This type of play comes with the territory; think back to what Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen had to go through before winning six NBA titles.
The Detroit Pistons and Boston Celtics targeted Pippen as being soft and would disappear in the more physical games. Both teams went after him hard until he proved himself.
All great players have to go through this period before entering stardom. The older players would say suck it up and just play ball.
You can call pitching inside to a batter what you want: a knockdown pitch, beanball, purpose pitch or chin music, but it's baseball’s equivalent to a bounty system.
We all have laughed or reveled from an amusing headhunting story, and it’s all fun and games until there is an aftereffect from the pitch. As quick as a blink of an eye, one pitch can break a hand or jaw.
The pitcher’s defense has always been that he would knock down his own mother if she crowded the plate or throwing inside—it's all part of the game. One day, another player will join Roy Chapman as being the only major-leaguer to die from being hit by a pitch.
But I guess he had it coming.