The ‘Punchline’ Of Sports

By Tony Price, BASN Staff Reporter
Updated: March 8, 2010

BOSTON (BASN) — A couple of days ago a good friend from the state of Texas called to get my opinion on the double standard of punishment for violent acts between male and female athletes. He started the conversation by referencing the two-game suspension of Baylor women’s basketball phenom Brittney Griner for punching a player from Texas Tech in the face and breaking her nose. He asked if that were a guy from Kentucky do you think he would have just received a two-game suspension? I easily answered the question with an emphatic “NO” and used the example of LaGarrette Blount, the Oregon football player who punched a player from Boise State in the face at the conclusion of their opening game
Blount’s season was virtually ruined and he was vilified across the country by everyone from the media to the common fan. The question becomes why the double standard ? There is no clear or easy answer, however what I find interesting about both cases is that both perpetrators were African American athletes who punched white athletes. How would this have played differently if the white athletes assaulted the black athletes? Especially in the arena of football and basketball where African Americans are thought to dominate and not be challenged by their white counterparts. After all, sports is the one area where many blacks feel superior to whites or at least feel that if all things being equal they can beat them unlike corporate America. Secondly the fact that male athletes receive harsher sentences is counter intuitive to a culture that breeds competition and winning at all costs, raking in huge profits while encouraging a “Swag” or macho attitude of earning respect. Lastly, I think there is a severe backlash when the assailant is an African American male as oppose to a female as in this case with Griner, because of the negative stereotype that is associated with the black male athlete of being nothing more than a glorified “Thug”. I doubt the purists of women sports who championed and fought for Title IX were looking for preferential treatment when it came to holding female athletes equally accountable for their actions on and off the playing surfaces. To date and to the best of my knowledge, none of the feminists groups, coaches or advocates have come out and made a statement on the minor suspension of Griner or how the NCAA and universities unfairly punish male athletes more harshly for the same offenses. I am not attacking Griner. I chalk up her actions to a young person who simply lost her composure, which does not make it right. However I’m not naive to forget what its like to be young and have your emotions get the best of you and override common sense, but I am questioning how the cases differ? How can she get a slap on the wrist for breaking a players nose while male athletes lose their seasons and reputations? Maybe its because men’s sports impact the bottom line of a university in a greater way and negative publicity upsets the fan base, and corporate sponsors or perhaps because they are simply more visible. Whatever the reasons, the NCAA needs to carefully examine these occurrences as violence in sports is becoming increasingly common especially in women sports. We can no longer turn the other CHEEK!