There is a loose ball on the court. Two opposing players make a play for it. They reach a stalemate, where neither is able to gain singular control. Athletic competition at its most basic, pure level, everything is fine and dandy.
Until a fellow competitor arrives at the scene, makes a fist and delivers an MMA-style punch with the back of his hand and forearm to the player flat on his back, with his arms locked around the ball and about 200 pounds of someone else’s body weight keeping him pinned in that position.
Have we really sunk this low when it comes to sportsmanship anymore?
In a time when breaking the rules, even at the highest, most-watched level of sport in this country, is labeled by many as “gamesmanship,” perhaps we have.
Just count me out when it comes to tabulating those willing to accept this new era of how things are between the lines, or abiding by the ever-changing rules being pawned off as how we should judge right and wrong.
Taking a break from reading and/or hearing the latest spin-doctoring of the New England Patriots’ much-debated foray into deflated pigskin physics, it was nice to see high-quality basketball action Monday night by a high-caliber team in Villanova.
Ranked among the nation’s top five teams, the Wildcats play a cohesive, well-coached and hard-nosed style that can be quite appealing, especially when they are delivering payback to a fellow Big East squad that upset them earlier in the season.
Only things got ugly. The aforementioned scene came to fruition with ’Nova point guard Ryan Arcidiacono enduring the full thrust of Seton Hall junior Sterling Gibbs’ intentional blow.
Fortunately, Arcidiacono walked away from the incident little worse for the wear.
But the problem is, it happened, Seton Hall then suspended Gibbs for two games … and the “punishment” is being lauded, even by the Big East, as a great example of school policing an unacceptable act.
Frankly, the fact Gibbs will get to play another minute this season is appalling. The act was a criminal one, with Gibbs taking out his frustrations on a prone, defenseless player who also happens to be somewhat of an annoying one to opposing teams because A) he’s relentless and B) he’s good, and sometimes very good.
To wit, Arcidiacono had harassed the Pirates’ leading scorer into a 4-for-15 effort from the field in the game. He also eclipsed the 1,000-point barrier for his college career in the process.
Clearly, Gibbs let his emotions, and probably his competitive juices, get the better of him. He apologized through a series of tweets, including ones directly to Arcidiacono. The ’Nova junior, no surprise, accepted.
So, everything is fine and dandy.
Although, for sanity sake, it almost seems that ’Nova and Arcidiacono would do a service to athletic competition by pressing charges for assault and battery – if only to force the hand of sportsmanship, and maybe help raise its current status from the ashes.
- Jack Kerwin is the Director of Communications for the United States Sports Academy. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.