Anger in Sports: A Look Back Over My Time

Richard O'NealSenior Analyst IAugust 7, 2009

LOS ANGELES - JULY 24:  Manager Bruce Bochy #15 of the San Diego Padres argues his ejection with first base umpire James Hoye in the 12th inning against the the Los Angeles Dodgers on July 24, 2006 at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

As a 25 year-old, I'd like to say that I've seen my fair share of sporting events.  I've seen the good and bad; the beautiful and ugly; the highs and lows.  I played up until I was 23, and I have taken note of some of the behavior that people around me and that of players on television have displayed, which brought me to my main question: Has anger in sports gotten out of hand, since my existence?

Anger is defined as a strong feeling of displeasure and belligerence aroused by a wrong.  It's understandable that anger is a natural part of a human's ability to feel things and cope, but a person can be and often is judged by how they choose to handle their feelings.

More and more each year, sports become a huge part in the lives of males and females.  The vastly growing market of new media/and social media makes it very easy for younger people to view the negative behaviors of athletes and pick up on these negative actions of their role models.   Baseball, basketball and football are the main areas of focus pertaining to where a lot of these issues are in American society.


Football would have to be one of the worst displays of anger in sports.  There is so much aggression learned and taught that it becomes a part of a player's behavior.  Thrown or slammed helmets, late hits, excessive profanity, thrown headsets and constant yelling are consistent factors in practices and games.  As a former player, I understand that it's a physical game with physical tendencies but there has to be a point where the line is drawn. Think back in 1999 when then Cleveland Browns offensive tackle shoved long-time NFL referee Jeff Triplette to the ground after being accidentally hit in the eye by a flag or former linebacker Bill Romanowski punching a teammate back in 2003, resulting in a fractured eye socket and a lost tooth.


The game of baseball is much lighter on anger than football but still has questionable tendencies that should be discussed.  Broken bats, balls thrown at the body and mainly the head, charging the mound and the famous profanity-laced tirades of managers when calls don't go their way.  There was an incident a couple of years back when minor league player Izzy Alcantara drop-kicked the opposing team's catcher after he was called out for three strikes(Here's the video). How could we forget the incident involving Roberto Alomar spitting in the face of the umpire.  (The aftermath)  Now that I think of it, baseball sounds much worse than I initially thought.


Basketball has its fair share of lumps as well.  Basketballs are thrown into the stands and/or spiked onto the court, flagrant fouls turn into injuries and poor sportsmanship is displayed on and off the court.  In 1996, Nick Van Exel shoved a ref onto the scorer's table because he couldn't control his anger and was suspended for the final seven games of that season and fined $25,000.  In this same article Dennis Rodman was suspended and six games and fined $20,000 for headbutting a referee just a month earlier.  Speaking of Rodman, we all remember his little run-in with the cameraman as shown here.  Back in 2001, a referee was knocked unconscious by a player from Uruguay because the player was upset with a non-call (Seen here). In November of 2004, one of the worst displays ever in a sports event, the "Brawl at the Palace" took place.  The Detroit Pistons and Indiana Pacers participated in a huge fight that involved fans and the coaching staff because of a hard foul by Ben Wallace on Ron Artest.  (Seen here)


I wasn't even going to get into this but even Nascar isn't immune to anger in sports.  We have seen so many crashes and spin-outs lately due to anger and even fights outside of the cars.  Fans look at it as being a part of the sport but they aren't realizing the seriousness of the situation.

I realize that these issues could be thought of as being too sensitive or taking it to the extreme but read back over all of these points again..Watch some of these videos again.

Fathers or mothers, do you really want your children to learn these behaviors and incorporate them into their lives?

Young people, do you think this is acceptable for grown men and women to act this way? 

What kind of example are they setting? 

Most players don't ask or choose to be role models, they just are and they need to step outside of these situations to see what they are showing people. 

Will these things change? 

I doubt it but someone needs to light a spark under these sports figures to inform them of the choices they make.