Friday, April 22, 2011

He’s Heating Up

Playing NBA Jam for the Super Nintendo is a favorite past time of mine. Both offense and defense contain simple strategies to ensure a win. If your on offense you either shoot 3-pointers or dunk and on defense you just hack away, repeatedly trying to foul whoever has the ball. Every once in awhile you try to go for the Dwight Howard block but usually just get goaltending called. Currently the NBA playoffs are happening and this same defensive tactic of heavy fouling is being used against the superstars of the league. In hopes of tiring out the other team’s MVP player, whether it is Dwight Howard, Derrick Rose, or Chris Paul, the opposing teams are doing anything possible to stop those three from having an impact.

Dwight Howard was recently reported to be so tired after game 2 that he was 90 minutes late to his post game interview due to his prolong ice bath. This was due to the double and triple teams that he has to deal with. The Los Angeles Lakers decided to put Kobe Bryant on Chris Paul and prevent another 33-point, 14-assist game. Kobe’s aggressive body contact shut down Chris Paul leaving him with only 20-points and 9-assists. Anyone watching the game could see the sparks fly as these players did everything they could to bump, irk, and aggravate the other.

The NBA is not taking lightly to this hawkish behavior and has increased the number and level of fouls it hands out. Recently, the NBA upgraded a foul that Jeff Foster committed on Derrick rose to a level 1 flagrant foul (two level 1 flagrant fouls results in a suspension). Derrick Rose was very displeased after the foul since Foster wrecked him with his body and elbows. Almost resulting in a fight, the tempers calmed down afterwards. Foster responded after the game saying, [Rose] reacted. It’s the playoffs. I’m sure he is going to get hit plenty of times.” Rose shrugged it off but that’s what makes the playoffs so exciting. Two teams going head to head, do or die, win or go home. Ill feelings are taken out on the court and hopefully not too many fights break out. In the end, the most driven, emotionally controlled team wins.


  1. These men deserve a round of applause for their sportsmanship. I've long realized that I could never be an athlete in certain sports like football or basketball because I would probably lose it. I have never been in a fight and don't plan on getting into one but I am sure that I probably would have just punched Foster in his face straight out. A lot of times fans seem to forget that part of the game is not only summoning emotional and physical energy for miraculous athletic feats but controlling that energy too.

  2. It's really interesting that although sports themselves aren't necessarily violent, but there's definitely always an element of aggression. The ones who are able to channel that aggression or violence are the ones who are always able to do well. I guess you can't be a good athlete if you're a softie (cough cough, Pau Gasol). All jokes aside, that Foster foul was so ridiculous, I felt so bad for Derrick Rose. He got rammed in the face by Foster's elbow and hand. That's not basketball man, neither was that a "good" foul (I honestly think it almost deserved Flagrant 2).

  3. I find much of the extraneous violence in sports is motivated part by one's belief that winning is the foremost concern while sportsmanship isn't. Contrary to the perception that participating in sport represents the achievement of the highest order of honor where the only thing that matters is skill and determine as opposed to guile and deception, unnecessary bumps and hand checks constitutes lazy and dirty tactics, a violation of the very thing that sports promises.

  4. Violence has its place in sports, but the level of violence varies depending on the individual sport. Such contact sports as football, hockey, and boxing thrive off the ability to inflict such violence on an opposing player that they must alter their game due to fears of repeated hard hits. On the opposite spectrum, baseball has very little violence aside from the occasional hit batter and charging of the mound, but even these instances are considered part of the game. The violence in basketball, although it seems shockingly present in the league of late, is nothing new. During the 80s, the Detroit Pistons (referred to as the 'Bad Boys') dominated the league with physical play and enforcer like attitudes. Many pros during that time will tell you that this was just part of the game and that the better team would prevail in the end. I would say basketball today is much more watered down, and I actually enjoy seeing tempers rise a little during the playoffs. I don't find anything wrong with Foster's foul to be honest as "hard fouls" are just part of the game when you enter do-or-die situations such as the playoffs.

    Lastly, the issue of sportsmanship loses much of its meaning in professional sports because these athletes face much more pressure to deliver wins. Losing is just not an option when you have large fanbases and financial well-being dependent on your nightly performance. Rather than sportsmanship, I would say there is a level of respect between athletes who all recognize that they are in the same trouble and that the rivalries between teams transcends them because many of the intense rivalries have existed for decades and even centuries.


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