By Ken Reed
The world of sports needs to grow up.
The latest example occurred this past Thursday night. In the sixth inning of a 2-1 baseball game, the Los Angeles Dodgers Zack Greinke hit the San Diego Padres Carlos Quentin on a 3-2 count. Greinke displayed obvious frustration with himself. However, Quentin, instead of taking his free pass and jogging to first base, decided to take a few steps out toward the mound while barking something at Greinke. Greinke looked up, and instead of ignoring Quentin’s rant, appeared to say something back. Quentin then charged the mound, tackled Greinke and broke the Dodger pitcher’s collarbone in the process.
To say the least, the Dodgers weren’t happy about losing a pitcher they gave a $147 million contract to in the offseason.
“A 2-1 game and we’re trying to hit him (with a) 3-2 count? That’s just stupid, that’s what it is,” Mattingly said. “He (Quentin) should not play a game until Greinke can pitch (again). If he plays before Greinke pitches, something’s wrong.”
It’s hard to argue with that.
But there’s a bigger issue here. The Greinke-Quentin brawl is about more than a suspension and a team losing a valuable player in a fight. It’s about the Stone Age ethics that still abound in Major League Baseball, not to mention the NHL, the NFL, and the NBA. It’s about the Macho Man mentality behind “The Code,” an unwritten set of rules regarding how players should conduct themselves on the field, court, or ice. For years, “The Code” has been used by players to supposedly police themselves, as well as seek revenge and justice for perceived wrongs. In reality, “The Code” is an ego-based, caveman relic that needs to be cleansed from baseball, and every other sport.
What’s needed is a lot more athletes following a “Sportsmanship Code of Conduct,” which would include things like playing clean and fair, respecting one’s opponent, never disparaging or showing up other athletes, maintaining one’s composure during competition, and both winning and losing graciously.
Moreover, we need to stop romanticizing players who live by macho man ethics (pitchers Don Drysdale and Bob Gibson are legendary for their “toughness” — I see it more as cowardice — in throwing at batters whenever they felt the opposition had wronged or disrespected them in some way (e.g., digging in too much in the batter’s box). We also need to stop applauding hitters who show up pitchers after hitting a home run by standing at home plate admiring their accomplishment, then flipping their bat in the air before embarking on a slow, showboat-all-the-way, stroll around the bases.
What baseball needs is more hitters who when they hit a home run, drop their bat, and then run around the bases, No showtime is necessary. It’s not part of the “Sportsmanship Code.” Baseball needs more pitchers who are more inclined to tip their hat to a hitter who knocks their best pitch out of the park than throw at him the next time up. (Is a tip of the hat such an unbelievable possibility? Look to the tennis world, where many players will clap their rackets in appreciation for an opponent’s good shot.)
Carlos Quentin, and to a lesser extent Zack Greinke, failed to meet the high standards of a “Sportsmanship Code.” As such, the game of baseball — and the world of sports in general — was diminished this week.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #28 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Chat With Mano Watsa, a Leading Basketball and Life Educator – Watsa is President of PGC Basketball, the largest education basketball camp in the world, with over 150 camps in 30+ U.S. states and Canada. We discuss problems in youth sports today, including single sport specialization, the growing gap between the “haves” and “have-nots,” the high drop-out rate in competitive sports, and the growing mental health challenges young athletes are dealing with today.
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Episode #27 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Kids’ Sports: How We Can Take Back the Game and Restore Quality Family Time In the Process – Linda Flanagan is author of “Take Back the Game: How Money and Mania Are Ruining Kids’ Sports and Why It Matters.” We discuss how commercialized and professionalized youth sports are hurting kids and their families.
Episode #26 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Fix Youth Sports? – John O’Sullivan is Founder and CEO of Changing the Game Project and author of “Changing the Game: The Parents Guide to Raising Happy, High Performing Athletes and Giving Youth Sports Back to Our Kids.”
Episode #25 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Physical Education Should Be a Critical Component of K-12 School Design – Michael Horn is co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation.
Episode #24 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Mental Health and Athletes: Ending the Stigma – Nathan Braaten and Taylor Ricci are the founders of Dam Worth It, a non-profit created to end the stigma around mental health at colleges and universities through sport, storytelling, and community creation.
Episode #23 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Olympian Benita Fitzgerald Mosley Talks Title IX, Youth Sports and the Olympics.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
- League of Fans Sports Policy Director Ken Reed quoted in Washington Post column titled "What happened to P.E.? It’s losing ground in our push for academic improvement," by Jay Mathews
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
Vanderbilt Sport & Society - On The Ball with Andrew Maraniss with guest Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director for League of Fans and author of How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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