After noticing all that occurred this past weekend in sports—along with the VMAs featuring a special guest appearance by Kanye West—I decided to share my opinion on what USA Today called "the loss of civility in sports."
First it was Michael Jordan's HOF speech. Then it was Serena Williams going off at a line judge. Finally. it was capped off with Roger Federer swearing at the chair official.
Is this the first time things like this have happened in sports? No, of course not but it's the first time they occurred in close proximity to one another.
I guess if you want to really cap it off, there is Kanye West overshadowing Taylor Swift at the VMAs—which in my opinion was completely unnesseccary—but let's stick to sports.
What all this shows is there are two sides of sports. I'll use a represnitive from each side.
Michael Jordan will take the arrogant side, the guy who just said something that leaves you wondering why did he just said/did that.
Derek Jeter will take the calm, professional side. He's the kind of guy who you would want to build an organization around because he never loses his head or does something that would hurt his image.
Let's take a look at both sides of the sports world using various players/coaches on both sides.
Arrogant/unprofessional/baby: If you take a good long look at those three words, there's a list of players a mile long from every sport that would come to mind.
Michael Jordan, Alex Rodriguez, Stephen Marbury, Ron Artest, Terrell Owens, Michael Crabtree, John Rocker, Curt Schilling, Landon Donovan(?), Carl Pavano and many many others.
Take a look at some of those names. A-Rod, T.O, Curt Schilling, and Jordan are/were very talented during their day, but their ego always outshone their achievements at some point.
Everyone has an ego. Even if people issue fervent denials, there's always that 0.01 percent inside of us that thinks we are better than everyone else, whether it's in regard to something specific or just overall.
Having an ego in sports and in life is fine, as long as you can control it. But when you're out there in the national and global spotlight, you know everyone's watching you whether you're thinking about your actions or not.
Take Zidane in the 2006 World Cup Final. A great and very respectable player in the soccer world, but that split-second decisions to headbut Marco Materazzi completely changed the game, and in a little way changed the general public's view of him.
Luckily, because he only had one blunder he still is a marketable guy, and is involved with Adidas on a lot of soccer youth movements in the U.S. and around the world.
As I listed, there are primary sides in the sporting world for this type of behavior, a yin and a yang. However, there is kind of a middle ground for the people/players who are not known for being arrogant but at one time or another had a slip-up on the national or international stage.
That would be Zidane, Serena Williams, or Roger Federer, the players who get thrown out of games for arguing calls but are not knowm for being hot-heads.
But for now, let's focus on the arrogant players like those listed above. I know it's not easy to keep your cool in the middle of a heated contest, or especially when one is drawing to a close.
Professional athletes, however, need to keep their cool. Whenever one of them goes off, it instantly becomes national or international news and influences those who look up to them—regardless of how much or how little thought they put into their actions.
Take the Ron Artest incident.
Even though it was a split-second decision to go into the stands at the Palace at Auburn Hills, he still had that fraction of a second to consider his actions.
He decided to go ahead with it, anyway.
No one who has done something like Artest or Serena can't say afterwards, "Oh, I didn’t think about it. I just did it."
There is always that little devil or angle on your shoulder telling you to either do in or walk away.
Calm/Professional: Now for the other side of the coin, where you have the players who handle themselves in a calm way when something disagreeable happens.
Those players, led by my selected representative Derek Jeter, are people like Mark Teixeira, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, TJ Houshmandzadeh, Tim Duncan, Kobe Bryant, Zidane, and I'll throw in a few coaches: Bill Belichick and Don Wakamatsu.
When comparing this list to the arrogant players—or however you want to describe them—you'll notice there is still plenty of talent. The difference comes from how they conduct themselves.
Take Jeter for example. Yes, he's on the same team as Alex Rodriguez, but when it comes to their integrity/respectability off the field, they might as well be on different planets.
Kobe Bryant's on this list because he has battled back from huge adversity, including the rape allegations and his subsequent divorce. Almost like Ray Lewis in the NFL did.
Teixeira hasn’t been in New York long, but he has started off on the right foot.
Manning and Brady are the two of the biggest names in the NFL and they are always calm and cool when expressing their opinions or talking to the media. And they never call out teammates.
Duncan and Bryant are two of the most reputable names in the NBA, and they don't cause problems amongst the media. OK, Bryant is on a better level now than two years ago.
As for Houshmandzadeh, wide receivers always want to bark when they aren’t getting the ball in key moments. Nevertheless, Housh is a great man who is always calm.
He even was asked by Jim Rome why he didn’t go help Chad Ochocinco on his Ustream account. His response was, "Man I probably wouldn’t even know how to get on Ustream."
He's a classy guy.
For the coaches, Belichick and Wakamatsu: You never see them exploding at the officials or coming out to the media and complaining about how the game went.
When asked by the media, Wakamatsu will tell exactly why he didn't argue this or that call with an umpire. He said flat-out, that’s not who he is, that's not what he's about and he's not going to pretend to be someone he's not.
I don't want to give the impression I think everyone should keep their cool when there is a bad call or when they have a 0-16 season. You can't always expect players to keep their mouth shut.
In the past few years, more and more players are showing their aggression by either breaking bats, tennis rackets, spiking or throwing the football after a call, or unsportsmanlike displays.
The fans, on the other hand, love to see fights when they go to a baseball game because it adds an intense flavor to the game every once in a while.
Even in a very aggressive or competitive sport like boxing, the fighters always shake hands and talk after the fight but before the decision. Rarely do you see a cheap shot.
Aggression is not the problem. Cheap shots are. Let's try and keep sports enjoyable.
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