On Wednesday the NFL fined Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin $100,000 for stepping out onto the field during Thanksgiving night’s Ravens-Steelers game. In a similar incident, recently Nets head coach Jason Kidd was fined $50,000 by the NBA for intentionally spilling soda on the court during a game last Wednesday against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Both have apologized for their actions, although taking a different approach by which to do so. Tomlin simply chuckled it off in his weekly press conference, acting like it was no big deal he was clearly caught interfering with the play. Now when I first saw this, I didn’t really think it was a big deal. But after about the sixth or seventh time I saw it, I grew tired of the excuses where people were saying “you can’t define intent”. Maybe not, but what you can do is look up at the Jumbotron to see when a guy was coming and try to force him away from the sidelines which is exactly what Tomlin did. But since he’s a well-respected guy and people like him, he wasn’t suspended when he probably should have been. So in his case, comic relief was the defense mechanism that he used to get out of this situation.
As for Kidd, his situation was a little different. What he did was proclaim his innocence at first, but then pull an A-Rod and only own up to it after the video of him mouthing the words “Hit me” to Tyshawn Taylor as he walked off the court went viral. Since the Nets were out of timeouts, it would have ended up being a smart move – if Kidd had done it in 1952 when there weren’t cameras everywhere. Taylor himself even though it was a little weird – “Coach is drinking a soda on the sideline … I was like, ‘What’s he doing?” and then followed that up by saying “It could ice a free throw shooter and be a timeout when you don’t have one, but that wasn’t the thought process.” Nevertheless, Kidd was slapped with a $50,000 fine after he admitted what was apparent – that he had intentionally spilled the drink.
There is some amount of “Street Justice” here because both teams ended up losing their respective games. (That’s a Cro-Mags reference in case you didn’t catch it) But that won’t always happen and it speak volumes to a new era of cheating/sorta cheating/half-cheating/whatever you call it. It’s this kind of weak model of unsportsmanlike conduct where whoever gets caught can simply bark that nothing can be proved and everybody just agrees. It’s a sorry way out of what is intentional 85 to 95% of the time, and it certainly isn’t the gamesmanship that it used to be disguised as.
Let’s flashback to a time in the early 1900s where Major League Baseball had a shining star by the name Ty Cobb. With no Twitter account, no reality television show, and no fancy sportscar Cobb managed to become a legend in his own right. However due to many different recollections of Ty Cobb’s playing compiled over the years, he was kind of an insufferable asshole to say the very least. He repeatedly would talk shit to African American players and was widely recognized as the most racist player in the game. Unless it came to digging into a guy’s shins – Cobb would never discriminate there. He would constantly sharpen his spikes so that when he slid into second, third, and home, you could guarantee that by the end of the play no matter what you are wearing for protection – you’d be bleeding from the leg shortly thereafter.
It’s certainly miles from what Tomlin did in the modern day NFL and what Kidd ended up doing in what’s left of the modern-day NBA. But in a way, both of these leagues (as well as the other two) have created this format where the players have to resort to stuff like this because all of the really hardcore questionable behavior draws tremendous penalties, both on the field of play and in the pocketbook. And it’s done for safety reasons – The leagues almost have to do it that way, because of all the lawsuits coming from former players regarding their lack of healthcare post-retirement. So as a result, we are left with this new generation of unsportsmanlike behavior that only really allows for the players to pull off rinky-dink shenanigans and it just kind of looks sketchy at best.
Notice how I didn’t say that it forces them to do such things, doings such things is their decision. I think we can all agree that there are plenty of examples of teams that have been successful without pulling this kind of bullshit. For every overblown Bill Belichick “Spygate” type of incident, there are eleven other teams that make the playoffs that year that played by the rules and exhibited behavior that we could be proud of as fans of the sport.
Just to be clear here, I am in no way suggesting that Ty Cobb’s generation produced guys that would have existed better in today’s sports environment. In fact, it probably would have been quite the opposite case. He probably would have been shot three years into his career and crucified in the media for centuries to come. But back then, it was more of an issue of gamesmanship as opposed to just doing something sneaky and then acting like a little bitch about it after the fact. Even though Jason Kidd would have probably loved the leniency of the drunk driving laws in the early 1900s, he wouldn’t have done something like this on the court because he would have known better. There were certain things that you just didn’t do because they were considered to be a form of disrespect, and well…bitchery.
Same thing with Tomlin – I would assume that back in the day coaches knew exactly when and where to enter the field of play, and they didn’t do it a lot. If you were to Youtube some old clips of guys like Tom Landry, George Halas, and Vince Lombardi, I would almost guarantee you that those guys never stepped near a player coming towards them during the play. Back in the day, you would have just known better.
It’s important to remember that we all have our bad days, but if you to ask anyone of the male gender what the meaning of life was he would likely give you these two following answers 1) Get laid; and then 2) minimize the amount of bitchlike behavior other people see them engaging in. This includes but is not limited to: Acting overdramatic in less than dramatic situations, whining when there is no need to whine, and listening to portions of any Madonna album after “Erotica”. Sure, we’ve all got our guilty pleasures but as men it’s up to us to try and hide those moments as much as possible.
Since competition is the ultimate form of determining male dominance, incidents like this that occur in sports are magnified. And the last thing that you want to be is the guy who gets caught doing such things. Hopefully for the men that work in the industry, they will take notice that doing things like this put a permanent stain on your man card.
And it’s not one that you can simply wash off with hot water, even though that’s where you end up when you do something like this in the first place.