Two football players got in an argument last week. One was a linebacker. The other was the starting quarterback. Often starting quarterbacks wear red jerseys during practices, to remind teammates not to hit them too hard.
That didn't stop the linebacker. In a dispute allegedly over
Meanwhile, also this past week, an Australian tennis player named Nick Kyrgios got angry at his opponent, French Open champion Stan Wawrinka, turned to him and said that another player had slept with Wawrinka's girlfriend.
"Sorry to tell you that, mate," he added.
Well. At least he said sorry.
Now, I'm not sure what to make of all this. It's true that athletes have a long history of fighting with each other. Remember
And it's true that in both cases, the perpetrators were swiftly dealt with. Enemkpali lost his job (although he was picked up by another team and his former coach). And Kyrgios immediately was fined the maximum on-site amount of
But there is a hair-trigger anger in sports today that is different than the old days when baseball players clutched at each other until the umpires separated them, or
That stuff seems downright
Is this sports or the Sopranos?
And this month marks the one-year anniversary of a still-controversial auto racing tragedy in which veteran driver
At the very least, it was a confrontation that had a seriously tragic conclusion.
You wonder what's on the horizon?
Look. Our world has clearly become angrier. Everyone yells. Everyone demands respect. (Whatever happened to earning it?) Everyone has an opinion. Everyone tweets. Twitter,
If sports was not always refuge from that, it was at least a place where the rules kept your worst temper in check. There were fines nobody wanted to incur and penalties that would hurt the team. There was also the scorn of the locker room if you broke the cardinal rule of having your teammates' backs.
Pulling guns or cracking a jaw doesn't really fit that spirit. And telling your opponent that your friend slept with his girlfriend doesn't jibe with the spirit of "the gentleman's sport."
The culprits in the past week's incidents were very young (Enemkpali is 24, Kyrgios is 20). Maybe this is the new manners. Maybe it's a sign of the times. Maybe it's just coincidence. But I've covered sports for a long time and can't remember either incident ever happening before. A teammate broke the quarterback's jaw? My buddy slept with your girl? We're going to have to come up with a new meaning for sportsmanship. Hopefully it won't be "a word that means nothing anymore."