Why Hockey Needs Fighting

Hockey needs fighting. I’m a die-hard hockey fan and I’ll be the first to admit that I enjoy seeing a fight during the game. That being said there is a time and place for fighting and there are also those who shouldn’t fight. Take for example Connor McDavid, Erie Otters forward and projected first overall pick in the upcoming 2015 NHL draft, got into a fight with Bryson Cianfrone from the Mississauga Steelheads and broke his hand when he punched the boards instead of his opponent. Many have argued that this is further proof that fighting should be banned, since a skill player like him is getting hurt, that it adds nothing to the game. First I think it’s important to note that fighting can be either classified as aggression or violence. Aggression as defined by Jim Parry as:

  • “vigorous (trying to gain advantage by sheer force)
  • offensive (in the sport context: battling for the ball)
  • proactive (striking first)”

Whereas violence is  “centrally to do with intentional hurt or injury to others, as well as attempts to harm, recklessness as to harm, and negligence.”

Now that we have dealt with the definitions we should think about why players fight. Fighting in hockey usually happens because two main reasons either to sway the moment in favour of your team, or for protection of fellow team mates or self. If we use Parry’s definitions in both cases the fighting would be aggression rather than violence for the players as they are not intentionally trying to hurt their opponent, in most fights there is a mutual agreement among the parties involved. What would be considered violence is slashing, cross-checking, and checking to the head all of which are more detrimental for the player who is on the receiving end; in these cases there is no mutual agreement between the players. In the OHL this week there has been 3 suspensions of 5 games or more for illegal hits, and only 1 suspension due to fighting all seasons. In fact this week the magazine The Hockey News surveyed 24 NHL members of various roles within the organization a number of questions regarding fighting, this was one of the more shocking results:

This is a shocking statistic that these 24 individuals believe that 58% feel players will be less safe if fighting were eradicated; most would have expected that the opposite would have been true. While they do not justify their choices I would have to think that it may have to do with the lack of reprimanding by players when their opponents make illegal hits on their team mates. This threat of repercussions of your acts keeps the players in check, it makes them think twice before committing the illegal hits. Earlier I mentioned the Connor McDavid fight and how many argued that he shouldn’t be fighting, I happen to agree with everyone. While each player has the right to defend themselves as a player, someone like McDavid who has only had 2 career fights, should not be fighting. There are others on their team who are more suited to do this for him, there are players who when need stand up for their team, it should not become the responsibility of the skill player to go out and fight. These players are typically called “enforcers” or “goons”. This of course is what many want to do away with; they believe that an unskilled player whose only job is to fight has no place in hockey. While that may have been true of enforcers and goons of the past, now a player must be able to pull their weight within a team and provide more than a threating presence.

What really needs to be dealt with is illegal hits. Here is a hit from this past weekend in the OHL:

http://www.ontariohockeyleague.com/video/index/id/ca7832ed3d5950adac8ae73cebba58d7

In this hit which Cole Cassels threw was dangerous and caused injury to the other player. These type of hits are far more common than fights, in fact these kinds of hit tend to cause fights. As I said earlier players look out for each other, they realize that these hits cannot be allowed, that they must hold each other accountable in case the referees and other officials do not. While there are rules against fighting, there seems to be an unwritten code in hockey that fighting has purpose within the game and player accountability, it should be the incidences where non-mutual violence occurs which we need to be consider with.

It also needs to be noted that we the fans have a lot to do with fights. I can vouch that when a fight breaks out the crowd erupts with a cheer and yells our advice to our player. This eruption of support gives him a rush of adrenaline to continue the fight and to fight in the future as he wants this gratification of the fans. Anyone who has been to a hockey game where a fight has broken out can vouch that you too get a rush out of watching the players fight, that it adds a sense of excitement for the fans as it does for the players. This video shows Michael McCarron, a forward for the London Knights, after a fight where he incites the fans to cheer louder as he comes off the ice, you can clearly see that not only he but the fans are on an adrenaline rush. 

Even if you are against fighting in hockey it is clear that what we must be concerned with is player safety. What we the fans want is to watch a good hockey game played by these elite players and for it to be done safely. No fan enjoys seeing a player, regardless of which team they are on, get hurt.

Referenced Material:

McNamee, M. J., S. J. Parry, and MyiLibrary. Ethics and Sport. London ;; New York: E & FN Spon, 1998.

Further Readings and Videos:

Bobby Orr’s argument for fighting in hockey: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/sports/hockey/there-is-a-place-for-fighting-in-hockey-bobby-orr/article14850429/?page=all

Gary Bettman on fighting in the NHL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ahNkrD7C_k

Full Article on the survey of 24 NHL members on fighting: http://www.thehockeynews.com/blog/nhl-will-be-less-safe-if-figthing-disappears-say-hockey-insiders-thn-survey/

“Athlete Aggression on the Rink and Off the Ice.” By: Nick Pappas, Patrick McKenry, and Beth Catlett. Men and Masculinities 6.3 (2004): 291-312

“The Morality of Fighting in Ice Hockey: Should it be Banned?” By: Ryan Lewinson, and Oscar Palma. Journal of Sport & Social Issues 36.1 (2012): 106-12.

 For More Hockey Fights and Statistics: http://www.hockeyfights.com/

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It’s All In The Numbers

Every year in college football there is the headline “NCAA INVESTIGATION” surrounding some sort of athlete that has stepped over the invisible line by profiting off of their own hard work and success. Recently in the news, Todd Gurley, a running back at the University of Georgia, has just returned to playing after sitting out the last four games of the college football season while being suspended for profiting on his own name. After learning that Gurley made $3000 for signing autographs and other memorabilia over the last couple years, the NCAA slapped him with the suspension that locked the student athlete off the field and kept him out of the lime light.

 

 

I say lime light because this was supposed to be Gurley’s year. After an outstanding 2013 campaign  where Gurley rushed for 989 yards and 10 touchdowns, Gurley had already surpassed his amazing season from the year before after only participating in 5 games into an 11 or 12 game season (depending on the success of his team). A Heisman candidate and sure NFL first round pick, Gurley was a superstar because of his hard work on and off the field.

Here is a video of Gurley during his 2013 season

But how does playing the sport you love amount to “hard work”? How does anyone deserve the celebrity status that comes with being an NCAA football superstar? As a former university football player myself, I understand the dedication it takes just to keep up with the team. Being a superstar on Gurley’s level on the other hand takes dedication to a whole other level. Think hours of practicing, watching game film, sweating in the gym, physiotherapy, walkthroughs, long bus rides, oh and on top of that the whole university thing too. To be great at football at the university and collegiate level, one has to immerse themselves in the lifestyle of their craft and dedicate their very being to pushing themselves to be better every day. The sacrifices that student athletes must endure are immense, but it’s all worth it for the glory of the school, right?

Here is a photo of Gurley

Well there’s just a few things to consider that might change your perspective on the matter. Gurley was suspended for 4 games because of $3000 dollars he received over 2 years for signing memorabilia. Simple math says that Gurley only made $1500 a year off his own name. Now compare that to what the NCAA makes of his name and the names of his peers. The University of Georgia made $74,989,418 off of it’s’ college football program in 2013 and that’s not even an anomaly. The University of Georgia was actually the 4th highest in revenue generated by their football program, falling behind the University of Alabama, Texas and Michigan who all earned greater than 80 million dollars with Texas leading the way at 103 million dollars.

I beg the question: how is it morally acceptable for the universities to be making such an incredible some of money off their players while preventing them from even signing their own name for money under fear of possible sanctions they might receive? The NCAA will argue that it keeps the spirit of the game pure at the collegiate level by allowing athletes to maintain their amateur status. After all, the athletes that participate are supposed to be there for their education and anything other than purest form of amateur sport would be wrong.

However, what I think is completely wrong is how these student athletes are viewed as anything but employees of the school. The average college football player spends 43.3 hours a week dedicated to improving himself as a “student athlete”. These “student athletes” works 3.3 hours more than the average worker and these “student athlete” contributes towards the $11 billion dollars that the NCAA makes on collegiate sports. Not only are they obligated to look at their sport as a full time job, but college football players are expected to make their academics fit their athletic schedule and not the other way around. Athletes constantly are forced to miss classes because of athletic obligations that in the end only profit the school. Athlete/student or student/athlete? You tell me.

To me it only makes sense that the athletes who help to drive in such a large sum of money for the school off their performance and dedication to their sport receive some sort of benefit. Nowhere else will you find a situation where someone’s name is branded, marketed and sold to the general public and the athlete receive absolutely nothing in return. Such is the madness of playing in the NCAA. It’s easy to say that the stars of the NCAA will eventually make their place in professional sports and earn what they deserve, but the truth is that’s simply not the case. Of the 9000 players that play NCAA football on 315 even get invited to participate in the NFL scouting combine with absolutely no guarantee of being selected.

So in a league that generates 11 billion dollars, and while playing on a team that earned 74 million dollars off of his success as a running back, Gurley was tried and convicted by the NCAA for the measly sum of $1500 a year. This wasn’t money that he stole or gambled, this was money Gurley received for signing his own name as an autograph, a token to an adoring fan that values Gurley enough to part with money in return his the spelling of his name.

But why would anyone with such NFL potential jeopardize the year he was supposed to make it in the big leagues? Well as life can show, nothing should be taken for granted. Certainly not the hard work of the student athletes that play NCAA football.

Gurley returned after his 4 game suspension on November 15th and with 4 minutes to go in the final quarter, blew out his ACl, ending his season and possibly his dream of going pro.

 

Here is some further reading about the legal problems with the NCAA business model: http://www.forbes.com/sites/daviddavenport/2014/08/11/legal-cases-are-blowing-up-the-ncaa-big-business-model-why-it-matters/

I could not figure out why I couldn’t insert pictures, so I included the links to the photo and video I wanted to include

 

references:

TRACY, MARC. “Georgia Running Back Todd Gurley Suspended Until Nov. 15.” Georgia Running Back Todd Gurley Suspended Until Nov. 15. The New York Times, 29th Oct. 2014. Web. 17 Nov. 2014

Services, ESPN.com News. “Todd Gurley Suffers Torn ACL.” ESPN. ESPN Internet Ventures, 16 Nov. 2014. Web. 16 Nov. 2014.

Jessop, Alicia. “The Economics of College Football: A Look At The Top-25 Teams’ Revenues And Expenses.” Forbes. Sportsmoney, 31 Aug. 2013. Web. 16 Nov. 2014.

Mitchel, Horace. “Students Are Not Professional Athletes.” US News. U.S.News & World Report, 6 Jan. 2014. Web. 17 Nov. 2014.

https://www.google.ca/?gws_rd=ssl#q=percentage+college+players+make+nfl

http://espn.go.com/college-football/player/_/id/534669/todd-gurley

 

 

 

 

What’s so special about those new Jordan’s?

Did you know that Michael Jordan makes approximately 3% royalty on every pair of Nike Jordan shoes sold? … He sold $2.7 billion worth of shoes last year. That’s $80 million a year for an athlete that’s been retired for more than 20 years!

Professional sports in America alone is estimated to be a $485-billion dollar industry, annually. Let me first provide you a sense of context in regards to the extent of the numbers we’re talking about here:

  • The highest paid athlete, Floyd Mayweather earned $105 million last year. You can check out the Forbes list of highest paid athletes here. He has more money than he even knows what to do with, literally. Check out TMZ’s videos of him flaunting handfuls of cash in Vegas strip clubs – in other words, making it rain here, here, here and here. (Yes, these are regular outings for him)
  • The world’s richest sports franchise is Real Madrid, worth $3.44 billion. You can check out the rankings here. In 2013, Real Madrid bought the world’s most expensive athlete, Gareth Bale from Tottenham for a whomping $125 million.
  • According to Forbes, the average NBA player earns $5.15 million, the average MLB player earns $3.2 million, the average NHL player earns $2.4 million and the average NFL player earns $1.9 million. And these are just salaries. You can read more on this here.
  • On the other extreme, some semi-professional athletes feel that they are barely even being paid minimum wage. A current example that’s close to home is the class-action lawsuit against the CHL, which can be read here.

In fact, even the owners of sport’s major governing bodies feel that athletes are paid too much. Lock-outs are seen time and time again in sport’s major leagues. The most recent example was the 119-day NHL lockout in 2013. Without getting too far into the gritty details of these labour contracts, it’s clear that much of the dispute revolves around players demanding more money/security and the league not entertaining these demands.

Now, this all serves as a sufficient numerical explanation of why some athletes get paid such large amounts of money – because we pay them such large amounts of money!

The Toronto Maple Leafs rake in approximately $142 million in ticket sales each year. You can check out the revenues of all NHL teams here. But why are tickets so expensive? The simple explanation is supply and demand. The demand for Leafs tickets is strikingly high and the supply is limited (approximately 20-thousand seats), therefore the average cost of a ticket to see the boys in blue is $137.47, the highest in the NHL. You can check out average ticket costs for all NHL teams here.

The more complicated explanation seeks to justify why the demand is so high. Why is society willing to spend so much money on sports?

Is it perhaps that we value the hard-work and dedication of athletes? I ask you then, if it’s the athlete that we truly care about, then why do their surgeons make a small fraction of their salary, between $200-430 thousand a year? Trainers and therapists even less. Surely the jobs of the coaches, trainers, doctors, surgeons and therapists are just as important as the one who scores the goals.

No, it goes further beyond this. Society doesn’t spend their money on sport, society spends their money on entertainment. Which is why we choose to spend on our money on the athlete – the one that directly provides us with the entertainment, not their team of administrators. To sufficiently tell you why society values entertainment so highly would go far beyond the confines of a blog.

Now that we’ve justified our reasoning for spending so much on athletes, we must now ask; how do athletes justify their salaries?

Muhammad Ali is famously known for saying, “The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses – behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights.” Indeed, the sacrifices and risks that athletes make throughout their career is significant although it’s not always glamorized in the media; intense training regimens, scrutinizing hours, early mornings, risks of lifelong injury, etc. It’s also important to note that athletes often make other sacrifices that are a little less glorified – basketball players who can’t read, football players who jeopardize their mental stability and sprinters who dope themselves all serve as examples. At the end of the day, being an athlete is a job. It puts food on the table for themselves and their loved ones. In this sense, it’s not much different than the lives of doctors, lawyers, teachers, professors, engineers and all other doctrines of workforce – other than the length of their career. Most athletes spend, on average about 12 years in their professional career, significantly shorter than the average worker. On the assumption that the average household income in America is approximately $50 thousand, multiplied by an average of 40 years in the workforce, the result is a lifetime income of $2 million – less than what the average professional athlete earns in a year.

Furthermore, most of the top American athletes earn nearly twice the amount of their salaries in endorsements. Lebron James for example, his salary is $19.3 million and he earns $58 million in endorsements. Major companies compete for multi-million dollar endorsement deals for athletes that they want to be the face of their company. In the world of sport, Michael Jordan, a long-time retired athlete rakes in $80 million a year in endorsements from Nike. You can check out Nike’s top aces here.

So maybe you’ll think twice next time you’re about to drop a couple hundred bucks on those new Jordan’s – after all, they won’t improve your jump shot.

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PS- A possible solution, an attempt to help justify the salaries of athletes was proposed on The Dylan Ratigan Show on NBC. You can check it out here. He suggested that both athletes and fans should be equity partners in the franchise, equal share-holders; “share the pain, share the gain” as he so eloquently put it. This further justifies why personally, I am so fond of the Greenbay Packers and Real Madrid CF – both are both fan-owned teams. These institutions can exist and still allow athletes and franchises to earn their millions, while protecting the integrity of sport as a business and maintaining a strong fan base. It creates a very positive atmosphere, where a successful season for the team is also a successful season for the shareholders and fans alike.

The End of the Enforcer

In modern hockey the enforcer is rapidly disappearing. The Toronto Maple Leafs have taken their 4 tough guys; Colton Orr, Fraser Mclaren, Mike Brown and Mark Fraser off of their roster in the past 2 years to make room for more young players and better offensive depth. The modern day Gretzky, Sidney Crosby, is on a line in between two wingers who weigh less than 200 pounds and are very different than Marty McSorely the imposing straight enforcer who accompanied Gretzky for most of his career. The National Hockey League has been taking many steps in the last decade to increase player safety and one of the main things in those discussions is removing fighting from the sport all together. At first glance it seems like it would be nothing but good for hockey but the fight is very valuable to the sport.

There are several issues with this that have to be considered before fighting can be taken out of sport the first being the accountability players have for their actions on the ice. When elite goal scorers like Tampa Bay’s lanky captain Steven Stamkos are pitted against players like the 280 pound Dustin Byfuglien who can’t match his offensive skill it makes sense they would be extra physical with them. There is nothing in the rules that says a big player can’t hit a small player extra hard and highly physical players making clean hits are even praised in hockey. The classic defence for this is to have a very tough player on the ice to protect the star by fighting players who are too rough with the stars. The difference between the two physical confrontations is the aggression seen in the fighters who wish to establish dominance over players to prevent them from hurting others compared to the violence shown by the body check used to incapacitate or harm the star players. These two actions are also a question about fair play in the sport because fighting is breaking the rules to uphold the good of the sport where illegal hits are breaking the rules and harming the good of the sport. Without fighting in hockey hard hitting players will be able to violently smash in to other many talented players without any repercussions.


The difference between a big hit and a big fight

The hockey fight is a considered a particularly dangerous battle compared to other combat sports but it is actually relatively safe. The two hockey players boxing are balanced on thin blades on a rock solid slippery surface which sounds like an act from a circus compared to the separate sport of boxing. The first problem with this idea is most elite players have been skating for the majority of their lives and the balance they have on their skates is unimaginable for non-elite athletes. The fighters are also more balanced because the two skaters are grabbing each other’s jerseys making it more difficult for a player to fall backwards hitting their head off the ice. This positioning is also safer because players are less likely to land a powerful blow and also have a chance of hitting the helmet further decreasing the damage. A key aspect that is safer in a hockey fight than a boxing match is once one player is beaten the two are split up and the loser is not able to continue fighting unlike in boxing. When deconstructed the hockey fight is shown to have a much lower risk than an uninformed onlooker would perceive so the enforcer is not the biggest danger to hockey players.


A gambling add displays the difference between boxing and hockey fights

Even though it’s not as dangerous as it sounds many players are injured in fights and some develop concussions. Although it is a risk Dr. David Milzman, the Washington Capitals team physician, has done research watching over a thousand fights in slow motion and he estimates that there are injuries in less than 2% of fights making it relatively small. Dr. Milzman argues the main cause of concussions, which are one of the biggest issues in the NHL today, are violent hits to the head. An issue with players suffering from these concussions is they are more frequently placed back in to the game. The players contribute more to the team’s offense making coaches who are paid to win more likely to ask them to re-enter the game without proper medical clearance. It is also more obvious when a fighter is concussed by a punch to the head than a player going down after a body check which could simply be a result of the wind being knocked out of them so coaches won’t unintentionally return concussed players to the ice. The evidence that points to dangerous body checks being the primary cause of concussions is a perfect example of why enforcers are needed to make sure players being rough with other athletes are held accountable.

More problems arise when fighting is left in the sport but players don’t have enforcers to control particularly aggressive players for them. This exact problem was shown in an Eerie Otters OHL game last week where their star player Connor McDavid was receiving particularly rough shots from an opposing player for the entire night. He is heralded to be a definite first overall pick in the 2015 NHL draft and was on his way to breaking OHL scoring records when dropped the gloves with a Mississauga Steelheads player where he broke a bone in his hand forcing him to miss weeks of playing. Nazem Kadri a player for the Toronto Maple Leafs was quoted about the fight saying “You can’t be a pushover. Guys can’t take liberties with you and not have some sort of consequence… I’m more of a goal scorer, but if the time comes, the time comes.” Kadri is stating if people are being violent on the ice a fight is important to control them. He says he was lucky enough to have players on his team keep others off his back but he also had to stand up for himself when he was out there without any of his tough guys. Connor McDavid’s injury perfectly illustrated the place for enforcers in the Ontario Hockey League and it also applies to the NHL.

Professional hockey is quite rapidly eliminating the pure enforcers but the removal of fighting is not the way to maximize player safety. The disappearing roll of the enforcer is a space that is left to be filled by hybrid players like Milan Lucic of the Boston Bruins. Lucic is a widely feared fighter around the league standing 6’4 and weighing over 230lbs who has also been known to score 60 points in a season along with over 100 penalty minutes. This new kind of player with elite skills along with the ability and willingness to fight is perfect for the modern game because they don’t take away from a team’s offensive abilities and they prevent the team’s smaller players from being pushed around. The National Hockey League is always evolving but there will always be a spot in the league for a guy who can put the puck in the net and put a violent player in his place.

Additional Information and Resources:
http://sports.nationalpost.com/2011/10/21/expert-fighting-isnt-causing-the-concussions/
http://www.thestar.com/sports/hockey/2014/11/12/connor_mcdavid_injury_reignites_debate_on_fighting_in_hockey.html
http://www.nhl.com/ice/playersearch.htm?navid=nav-ply-search#
http://sports.espn.go.com/nhl/columns/story?id=2724254
http://www.cbc.ca/sports/hockey/nhl/nhl-safer-with-fighting-players-say-1.2416907
http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=406011

Female Coaches in Male Professional Sports (or the Lack Thereof)

We are living in a time where women are breaking barriers every day and achieving great things that no one would have expected a few decades ago. More women are becoming CEOs of companies and dominating men in some industries but there is still one industry where women seem to be alienated. That is coaching in men’s sports. Women are overlooked for almost every coaching job available in male professional sports, but why? Is it because they lack the sports IQ? In my mind, women are able to learn and excel in sports just as well as men do but it is up to the big decision makers of professional men’s sports teams such as general managers to break the barrier and allow women to share their expertise with professional teams.

Some teams say that they are open to having women coach their team and most athletes would agree with that, but then why hasn’t it happened? It doesn’t matter if they think that they would allow it to happen, their actions prove that it is not happening and that speaks louder than their words.

Currently, in the four major sports in North America, consisting of basketball, football, baseball and hockey, there are 122 teams, approximately 1,000 coaching jobs and only one female coach. The American population is made up of 50.8% females and only one of those females can say they are a coach in one of the four big sports in America. That woman is Becky Hammon.

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Becky Hammon speaks with the press.

Becky Hammon was hired in the offseason in 2014 by the San Antonio Spurs, just after they won the NBA championship. Hammon and the San Antonio Spurs broke the barrier of female coaches in male professional sports and she is now coaching alongside one of the most well respected coaches in the NBA, Gregg Popovich. It was Popovich’s decision to hire the 16-year WNBA veteran to his coaching staff after he found himself very impressed by her outstanding basketball smarts and work ethic when she worked with him the previous season. The five time NBA championship winner Popovich once told, now assistant coach of the San Antonio Spurs, Becky Hammon, that “I’m hiring you because you’re a good fit here and you just happen to be a woman”. Professional sports teams all pride themselves on outstanding performance, so it is essential that any coaching decision be made with great seriousness so that they will hire the person with the best qualifications in the field, no matter what gender they are.

That being said, why is there still only one female coach out of the 122 teams and approximately 1000 positions? There are head coaches, assistant coaches, strength coaches, player development coaches, conditioning coaches, mind coaches and many others and the vast majority of them have one thing in common, they are men.

An all-male sideline

An all-male sideline.

Now this is considering all possible positions in male professional sports, but what if we only looked at the job of head coach? Zero percent of head coaches are women and with coaching jobs popping up every year, women are rarely considered. Why can’t women be thought of when they have the knowledge to lead a team? But it is not only male professional sports that are a problem. In the WNBA, women only made up 50% of head coaching positions in the WNBA as of last season. Now you can’t even bring up the argument that women are unfamiliar with the male game because supposedly they are not familiar enough with the women’s game to make up the majority of their head coaches.

There’s an argument that women cannot coach men at a high level because they have never competed at that level in a man’s sport. Although this argument might influence you to view women as ineligible to coach at a high level, you might reconsider since there are male coaches who have never played to the level that they are coaching. For example, Ken Hitchcock coached his team to a Stanley Cup win in the late ‘90s, yet he never played hockey at a high level. If men are accepted even though they haven’t played a high level, why can’t women also be accepted? Here’s an even more extreme example, Doug Belvins, kicking coach of the Miami Dolphins, was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at a young age and lost his ability to walk, and guess what, he never kicked a football, yet ex-New England patriots kicker Adam Vinatieri praises his coaching methods. Furthermore, there is proof that even the best athletes in the sport do not always have coaching success when they take on the job. Look at Wayne Gretzky for example. Known as the “Great One”, he scored more points than any NHL player in the history of the game, yet his tenure as coach for the then Phoenix Coyotes didn’t exactly last too long. He was released after failing to make the playoffs four years in a row.

Like men, women have the ability to have a high sport IQ, a good work ethic and great interpersonal skills to get along with players and staff and this should mean that they are qualified to coach for a male professional team. In the end, if a woman or man knows the game, they are an asset to the team. Women are no different than men, they bring the same passion for the game to their coaching ability as men do. They push themselves, just like men to higher levels in order to achieve their goals. It isn’t easy for anyone to get to the level at which they feel that they’ve fulfilled their dreams, it’s an uphill climb for both women and men, but they do it because they know they can make a contribution to the sport.

We claim that sexism is non-existent, but in reality, it is alive and well. The fact that women are not accepted in coaching jobs in men’s sports is not based on ability, it is because we believe for some inexplicable reason that they are unable to coach the opposite gender.

Additional Reads:

Nicole Kirnan, first woman to coach men’s pro hockey team, faced ‘demoralizing’ criticism

A Coach Who Happens to be a Woman 

Resources

http://time.com/3089699/becky-hammon-nancy-lieberman-advice-coaching/

http://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/wizards/becky-hammon-named-to-spurs-staff-first-woman-assistant-coach-in-major-pro-sports/2014/08/05/1296cd1a-1cea-11e4-ae54-0cfe1f974f8a_story.html

http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2012/09/female_coaches_why_aren_t_there_more_women_in_charge_of_men_s_teams_.html

http://www.edgeofsports.com/2014-08-09-943/

http://www.forbes.com/sites/larissafaw/2012/03/19/will-we-have-the-first-female-u-s-president-before-a-woman-is-a-nba-head-coach/

http://www.thepostgame.com/blog/good-sports/201202/man-wheelchair-who-helped-kick-super-bowl-dynasty

http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/stats/pdisplay.php?pid=54929

Why It’s Inherently Wrong to ‘Tank’ a Season

As much as we fans want to believe that sport teams go out and perform their ultimate best in order to win each and every game every time, we should come to terms with ourselves that that’s just simply not the case. There are countless cases in which sport teams will purposely ‘tank’ a season in order to finish at the bottom of the standings and get a high draft pick the following year for a potential franchise type of player. This drive is an unethical sporting behavior, but certainly nothing new. The idea of purposely losing in sports has been an ethical issue for as long as professional sports have been around.

The first real case where this crazy idea of professional athletes purposely losing came in 1919. The scandal was called the Black Sox Scandal in which eight members of the Chicago White Sox 1919 team conspired with gamblers to intentionally lose the 1919 World Series. While this obvious story deals with the gambling issues in sports and how it still lingers around today, this was the first real case where it became evident that athletes did this kind of stuff. While gambling and conspiracies are still around in sports across the world today, I think its more fascinating to look at professional sports close to home (here in North America) and see how they too purposely play with a disadvantage in order to lose a match for future rewards.

8 Men Out

The bread and butter of sports and what makes it the thrill that it is, is athletes go out competing against each other until the best deserving player wins. Sports lies at the heart of competition and athletes battling each other for a lack of a better term, until the death of them, is what makes sports so fun. The second you take that out though, you’ve lost sports. You’ve lost the idea of competition, the mere keenness that one gets when they play sports. The second you as a team owner or coach tell your players to purposely lose a game, your going against everything that sports and competition stands for.

Looking into how athletic competition and Socratic philosophy (specifically Plato’s early stuff) are alike, we see that competition in sports has important moral values. Heather Reid (2006) in her paper takes an interesting approach to what athletes gain in athletic competition. When we compete, we challenge others and ourselves, we seek ideal levels and we strive to achieve human excellence. This is all when we actively engage in proper sports and competition. With the way sports franchises are run today, asking your player to purposely lose a game goes against human excellence. We are scoffing are self-worth and practically ignoring our ‘god given’ sport talents.

Embrace the Tank

Take for example what is happening in the NHL today. Connor McDavid is a junior hockey player playing in the OHL right now who is suppose to be the next Sidney Crosby, the next big superstar in the NHL. A kid like him doesn’t come around often, so an opportunity to draft a player like this to your NHL team can change the face of your franchise for years to come. If you’re a team that’s struggling to sell tickets, a kid like this can do that. If you are a real bad team that can’t win games, a kid like this does that. If you’re a team that has those qualities listed above, you are the Buffalo Sabres. Currently the worst team in the league with 4 wins and the most goals against, the Buffalo Sabres are lining themselves up perfectly to finish dead last in the league and have the highest odds of getting the 1st overall pick in the 2015 NHL draft where Connor McDavid is slated to go first overall. The media has openly said that Buffalo plans on tanking the rest of the season. The team is horrific, half the guys on the ice don’t even look like they want to play hockey and all the media and hockey analysts are calling for Buffalo to ‘tank’ the rest of the season by losing the rest of their games. From a managerial standpoint, sure it makes complete sense because next year you’ll get that player who will change your franchise for possibly the next 10-15 years. But think of it from an ethical side. It’s ethically wrong to not compete against other teams because your ruining the league for other teams and going against what sports stands for. Sports is an active competition where one person tries to beat the other in a full pledged competitive game. Purposely losing goes against this idea and shows the type of person you are for doing it; a mere coward.

Connor McDavid

This crossroad in our sports society is this idea that people think its fine for a team to purposely lose. While no owner or coach will openly admit to telling his or her players to purposely lose, it’s happening everywhere today. Look by putting on your worse starting 5 players in basketball or hockey and just letting them play isn’t directly telling them to lose, the intention is the exact same. Your putting yourself at a disadvantage right from the gecko and letting the sport play out. By not doing anything to overcome this disadvantage, you’re purposely trying to lose. Of course we won’t see players pass the ball or puck to players on the other team in order for them to win. But you will see the best players on one team go against the worst on the other. The sad thing is that this will always happen because it’s all in the constraints and rules of the game. Look if your going to do this you have to try and fail, not just fail. I think that by changing the rules and structure in these drafts by not rewarding failure, it would result in a much more ethical methodology in maintaining the competition of sports. What do you guys think?

Take a look at some other articles on this topic..

Buffalo Sabres tanking article – http://www.thestar.com/sports/hockey/2014/11/03/tanking_for_mcdavid_eichel_necessary_evil_for_nhls_worst_arthur.html

76ers Tanking Article-

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/sports/wp/2014/11/14/philadelphia-76ers-taking-extreme-measures-to-ensure-losses/

Cool video from MIT Sports Analytics Conference that shows a cure for tanking –

http://www.sloansportsconference.com/?p=5496

What’s so special about those new Jordan’s?

Did you know that Michael Jordan makes approximately 3% royalty on every pair of Jordan shoes sold? … He sold $2.7 billion worth of shoes last year. That’s $80 million a year for an athlete that’s been retired for more than 20 years!

Professional sports in America alone is estimated to be a $485-billion dollar industry, annually. Let me first provide you a sense of context in regards to the extent of the numbers we’re talking about here:

  • The highest paid athlete, Floyd Mayweather earned $105 million last year. You can check out the Forbes list of highest paid athletes here. He has more money than he even knows what to do with, literally. Check out TMZ’s videos of him flaunting handfuls of cash in Vegas strip clubs – in other words, making it rain here, here, here and here. (Yes, these are regular outings for him)
  • The world’s richest sports franchise is Real Madrid, worth $3.44 billion. You can check out the rankings here. In 2013, Real Madrid bought the world’s most expensive athlete from Tottenham for a whomping $125 million.
  • According to Forbes, the average NBA player earns $5.15 million, the average MLB player earns $3.2 million, the average NHL player earns $2.4 million and the average NFL player earns $1.9 million. And these are just salaries. You can read more on this here.
  • On the other extreme, some semi-professional athletes feel that they are barely even being paid minimum wage. A current example that’s close to home is the class-action lawsuit against the CHL, which can be read here.

In fact, even the owners of sport’s major governing bodies feel that athletes are paid too much. Lock-outs are seen time and time again in sport’s major leagues. The most recent example was the 119-day NHL lockout in 2013. Without getting too far into the gritty details of these labour contracts, it’s clear that much of the dispute revolves around players demanding more money/security and the league not entertaining these demands.

Now, this all serves as a sufficient numerical explanation of why some athletes get paid such large amounts of money – because we pay them such large amounts of money!

The Toronto Maple Leafs rake in approximately $142 million in ticket sales each year. You can check out the revenues of all NHL teams here. But why are tickets so expensive? The simple explanation is supply and demand. The demand for Leafs tickets is strikingly high and the supply is limited (approximately 20-thousand seats), therefore the average cost of a ticket to see the boys in blue is $137.47, the highest in the NHL. You can check out average ticket costs for all NHL teams here.

The more complicated explanation seeks to justify why the demand is so high. Why is society willing to spend so much money on sports?

Is it perhaps that we value the hard-work and dedication of athletes? I ask you then, if it’s the athlete that we truly care about, then why do their surgeons make a small fraction of their salary, between $200-430 thousand a year? Trainers and therapists even less. Surely the jobs of the coaches, trainers, doctors, surgeons and therapists are just as important as the one who scores the goals.

No, it goes further beyond this. Society doesn’t spend their money on sport, society spends their money on entertainment. Which is why we choose to spend on our money on the athlete – the one that directly provides us with the entertainment, not their team of administrators. To sufficiently tell you why society values entertainment so highly would go far beyond the confines of a blog.

Now that we’ve justified our reasoning for spending so much on athletes, we must now ask; how do athletes justify their salaries?

Muhammad Ali is famously known for saying, “The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses – behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights.” Indeed, the sacrifices and risks that athletes make throughout their career is significant although it’s not always glamorized in the media; intense training regimens, scrutinizing hours, early mornings, risks of lifelong injury, etc. It’s also important to note that athletes often make other sacrifices that are a little less glorified – basketball players who can’t read, football players who jeopardize their mental stability and sprinters who dope themselves all serve as examples. At the end of the day, being an athlete is a job. It puts food on the table for themselves and their loved ones. In this sense, it’s not much different than the lives of doctors, lawyers, teachers, professors, engineers and all other doctrines of workforce – other than the length of their career. Most athletes spend, on average about 12 years in their professional career, significantly shorter than the average worker. On the assumption that the average household income in America is approximately $50 thousand, multiplied by an average of 40 years in the workforce, the result is a lifetime income of $2 million – less than what the average professional athlete earns in a year.

Furthermore, most of the top American athletes earn nearly twice the amount of their salaries in endorsements. Lebron James for example, his salary is $19.3 million and he earns $58 million in endorsements. Major companies compete for multi-million dollar endorsement deals for athletes that they want to be the face of their company. In the world of sport, Michael Jordan, a long-time retired athlete rakes in $80 million a year in endorsements from Nike. You can check out Nike’s top aces here.

So maybe you’ll think twice next time you’re about to drop a couple hundred bucks on those new Jordan’s – after all, they won’t improve your jump shot.

Featured image

PS- A possible solution, an attempt to help justify the salaries of athletes was proposed on The Dylan Ratigan Show on NBC. You can check it out here. He suggested that both athletes and fans should be equity partners in the franchise, equal share-holders; “share the pain, share the gain” as he so eloquently put it. This further justifies why personally, I am so fond of the Greenbay Packers and Real Madrid CF – both are both fan-owned teams. These institutions can exist and still allow athletes and franchises to earn their millions, while protecting the integrity of sport as a business and maintaining a strong fan base. It creates a very positive atmosphere, where a successful season for the team is also a successful season for the shareholders and fans alike.

Krishen Persad – 250 696 012 – kpersad2@uwo.ca