Unwritten Rules in Sports are Ridiculous

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Unwritten rules in sports are becoming a problem.

Don’t watch your home run. Don’t go after the star player. Don’t do this, don’t do that.

This past weekend, there was a line between the Buffalo Sabres and Toronto Maple Leafs. It all started after Corey Tropp was handily beaten and bloodied by the Leafs’ Jamie Devane midway through the third period of a 5-3 Leaf victory. On the next faceoff, the Sabres sent out enforcer John Scott while the Leafs sent out their scoring line, including star Phil Kessel.

Kessel and Scott chirped at one another before Scott dropped his gloves and went after Kessel. His teammates rushed in to deal with Scott while Kessel continued to slash at the big enforcer’s legs. Things erupted, several fights were had and when all was said and done, over 200 penalty minutes were handed out.

Here’s the whole incident so that you can judge for yourself:

Much has been made about this situation. Naturally and unsurprisingly, Leaf fans claim Scott was out of line going after a star player like Kessel as the stars typically don’t fight and it’s a part of hockey’s unwritten code that you don’t fight star players.

Hold up a second. A guy running his mouth is off limits to a beating because he’s good? In what world does that make sense?

Kessel should have been prepared for whatever was waiting for him the minute he started yapping off. He didn’t want to fight Scott? Perhaps he shouldn’t have been running his mouth to a man that has several inches and about 70 pounds on him and, oh yeah, punches people in the face for a living. I wouldn’t want to fight Scott either but the difference is I wouldn’t be stupid enough to smack talk the guy.

Men handling their business accordingly.

Men handling their business accordingly.

News flash: star players are just like the rest of the league in that they are MEN. Men stand up for themselves and fight, not needing teammates to do it for them. Apparently, the minute you hit “star” status, you don’t have to worry about being a man because the “code” kicks in and your teammates will do the dirty work for you.

It’s not like people will think any worse of a star player for not wanting to fight. It’s kind of a preconceived notion that most star players are babies that don’t fight their own battles because they don’t have to. So what’s it matter if a guy like Kessel simply turtles and runs from a guy like Scott? Nothing, because the preconceived notion is still there.

That “code” should also disappear when said star does something cowardly and juvenile like taking baseball swings at a guy preoccupied with others willing to do the dirty work. If it’s a clean battle along the wall that results in Scott wanting to tear his head off, fine, Kessel is in the right. But between the childish yapping and the poke near the end of the scrum by Kessel while Scott was being bear-hugged by a ref, there’s no defending Kessel.

Lastly, these unwritten rules in sports need to stop. They come from a time far different from this one, when athletes weren’t that far off from the common man, and the rules of society were different. Times change; rules change.

Star status or not, be a man and back up your words if you’re so inclined to yap or keep your mouth shut to save yourself the beating.

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  • Troy Collins

    Another reporter that hasn’t got a clue about the incident, or hockey in general for that matter. Kessel chirped back at Scott, because Scott told him he was gonna jump him when the puck was dropped. This was clearly a pre-meditated event by the useless hockey player, who’s only in the league because he’s an enforcer type player. People don’t pay several hundreds of dollars per seat at the ACC to see the likes of John Scott, and his tremendous hockey talents (that was sarcasm)
    What Scott did was completely bush league, and he is gonna have to pay the price for his actions, and no I’m not talking about the Leafs seeking revenge. Every enforcer in the league will want a piece of him, because he gives these types of players a bad name. He’s gonna have to defend himself every night, because the other goons are gonna send him a message that you aren’t touching my star player. You wait, and see. We’ll be saying “who was that guy from Buffalo” in 6 months to a year.
    Having said all that, Phil Kessel’s multiple slashes to Scott were equally as embarrassing, and way over the line. I can see the first one to the shin pads, as a warning to get away from me, but the 2nd, and 3rd hacks, and pokes should have got him a few more games to say the least.
    There were a lot of wrongs here, starting from the earlier bump to the head of Tropp by Devane (which didn’t look deliberate to me), followed by Tropp challenging Devane to a fight, and getting his arse kicked. Then followed by the Sabres coach for sending Scott out to look for trouble, and another wrong for Carlyle putting out his scoring line against that baboon. Then for Scott going after Kessel, and Kessel’s childish slashes in response. Then finally for Clarkson for jumping the boards to protect his teammate. Noble? Yes it was, but very stupid indeed.
    Here we are almost 3 full days past the incident, and people are still writing, and talking about it. This has been dealt with by the NHL, maybe not what some people would agree with, but they have the final say, so no sense arguing about it any more. Rolston has been fined, Kessel has been suspended for the remainder of the pre-season, and Clarkson has been suspended 10 regular season games. The cause of all this (the instigater, and yes he got a penalty for that) gets off Scott free, no pun intended. let’s put this to rest for goodness sakes. Nine times out of 10 the rematch everyone is circling on their calender never takes place. I expect Orr, or Frasor to fight him when they play next, and that will be the end of it. You can thank the stupid instigator penalty for that.

  • B1Gcast

    The unwritten rules are kind of dumb and lame at times, but they definitely make the sports they are involved with unique to their own sport.

  • Chris

    I have to say it doesn’t appear that Kessel yapped at Scott initially – judging from what both have had to say postgame it appears that Scott said he would ‘jump’ him and KEssel thought he was joking. Scott clearly took that raised arm by Kessel as an indication of aggression.

    As a Leafs fan I would take some issues with some of your comments. It seems to be agreed that the fight that so enraged the Sabres bench was initiated by the smaller Sabres player. Perhaps Devane should have declined, but then he would have been labelled a pussy, such is the ludicrous nature of ‘the code’

    Ryan, you’re a Sabres fan I think you’re piece certainly suggests that. But as Leafs fan, whichever team you follow is was a diabolical episode from start to finish.

    It was poor by Rolston, naive by Carlyle, and classless from Scott, Kessel and Clarkson. We now have to cope with our marquee signing spending the first 10 games on the bench and if the Leafs struggle without him, and then miss the playoffs by a few points – it will be extremely embarrassing for Clarkson.