Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Violence in sport

Two recent events have made me think about the connection between violence and sport. The first was dramatic and frankly scary, the second was just incredibly frustrating. One I saw, the other I was unfortunately part of.

First, anyone who watched the semi-finals of the rugby sevens at the Melbourne Commonwealth games probably saw Scott Fava knocked unconcious in a tackle. With a mate, I was at the game and less than a minute after the tackle, late in the second half, it was obvious that Fava was badly injured. The crowd's reaction was understandable, as was his wife's who was in the crowd and rushed on-field highly distressed by the sight of her husband who was fitting and still unconcious five or more minutes after the tackle. There was nothing wrong with the tackle. It was fair but obviously something about the contact floored Fava. Unsurprisingly, he was rushed to hospital and out for eleven hours. Surprisingly, he recovered fully was back playing for the Super 14's Western Force a week or so later. Still, the event gave me pause to think about what these guys are doing and the risks they take.

We won by the way - gold!

Second, I have played social sport since leaving Uni and this has often include mixed Netball. I played in Hamilton and Wellington with work teams and in Sydney, I play with a group of friends. We play in a competition at Sydney Uni and usually have a great time win, lose or draw. Last night, one of the opposition team members deliberately and aggressively ran at one of our players and, after the whistle, contacted her. The fact that he was six foot+ and she's probably only five foot adds further insult. My team member was no hurt but was upset as was I. This is a social sport and usually a sport where contact is pretty limited, compared with rugby for instance, and so this instance was pretty unusual and I thought sufficiently serious that the offending player should have been sent off; he wasn't. At the time, I had a pretty frank and colourful exchange with the opposition player and then after, spoke with the head referee. Today, I'm sending off a more formal complaint which basically asks the organisers to consider what actions should be taken against the player. My view is that he should apologise and probably miss a game or two. The rest of his team should also think about whether they want to play with him, I wouldn't.

I play sport 'cause I want to stay fit, 'cause I love the social contact and the competition, and because it helps me unwind. I watch sport because, in its purest form, it is close to the most perfect expression of humanity. Anyone who saw Tana Umaga attend to Colin Charvis a few years back will understand what I mean. Compared with Tana's act in a professional and international match of one of the most rigourous games around, the pratt last night should stick to playstation...

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