If you’ve listened to this show for a while, you know I’m from Pittsburgh. And that makes me a Steelers fan. Steelers fans root for their team in good seasons and bad, and have always had a belief that their players embody the spirit of Art Rooney, one of the founders of the modern NFL. Their players are tough and gritty, without being thuggish. They play hard…and they play right.
Then, you see this.
That’s from last Thursday night.
If you haven’t seen the hit, it’s gruesome - one of many that linebacker James Harrison has leveled on opposing players over the years. He’s gained such a reputation in fact that this hit cost him a game suspension - and about $75 thousand dollars. That’s on top of $125 thousand he was fined last year for blows to the head. Many football players - and Steelers fans - defend Harrison, saying he’s just playing a fast game the way he was taught...and the way fans like.
Detractors say these fines - and others levied by the league in a recent crackdown on hits like this - are essentially meaningless to players who make millions. They worry that the game will only really change when a player dies on the field. Or maybe, as in the case of pro hockey - it’ll be the story of Sidney Crosby, an icon for my hometown team, the Penguins. The best, most skilled player in the league, has missed roughly a year - and is still recovering from concussions received on consecutive, dirty hits. The NHL is facing enough bad press already, with a groundbreaking profile of “enforcer” Derek Boogaard, who died young after a career of league-sanctioned brawling.
Today, violence in sports - have the games we love gone too far? We especially want to hear from you if you coach youth sports. What do you teach kids about playing hard - but staying within the rules?