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.
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.