OT: how various sports handle sportsmanship

Submitted by taistreetsmyhero on July 28th, 2013 at 5:47 PM

The ejection of Miguel Cabrera in today's Tigers game, which most people (Tigers fans at least)  thought was a result of the ump being way too sensitive, has me thinking about how different sports manage sportsmanship.

In many sports, there are penalties that referees can call when they think players are whining or being overly demonstrative to the detriment of the game. Football refs throw a flag for a 15 yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, NBA refs call a technical and the other team shoots free throws, soccer refs can hand out a yellow card.

In baseball, there aren't really penalties. The ump's only power move is to eject someone.

And then there's hockey, which I don't watch a ton of, but my impression is that the notion of a ref calling a penalty on a player for unsportsmanship is just silly.


So my question for you all is, which sport do you think handles sportsmanship the best? Would you like any sports to change their rules?


My opinion:  I hate when player antics that have nothing to do with gameplay affect the outcomes of matches. There is nothing more frustrating than having a big 3rd down stop nullified by an excessive celebration penalty, or a tech called on a player for arguing a call late in a close game. At the same time, it's also annoying to watch players whining, and I think there should be something to keep players somewhat in line.

With that said, I think hockey does it the best, because the culture of hockey players sort out most annoying players. You don't want to get labeled as a whiny POS because players will hunt you down during games. In this way, whining is limited and gameplay is unaffected. I'd love NBA and especialy soccer to develop this mentality, but I think in the meantime increasing fines is the way to start.



July 28th, 2013 at 5:54 PM ^

Baseball is pretty good at self-policing.  Dipshit players get thrown at, or taken care of in their own locker room.  You notice Bryce Harper no longer wears his eyeblack like a douchebag.  His teammates probably took care of that pretty quick.


July 28th, 2013 at 6:08 PM ^

throwing at players is bush league. There's no way a player can defend themselves. I guess that would seem like a double standard when I'm advocating hockey where players hit the shit out of players they don't like--sometimes in a very dangerous way--but there's something about running into someone that morally differs to me than throwing a ball at someone.


July 28th, 2013 at 7:19 PM ^

In hockey, you can hit back.  A batter is relatively defenseless.  I think every single time a pitcher hits a batter, the batter should be allowed to charge the mound and anyone from either team that attempts to interfere gets tossed.  I'm not a baseball guy and I'm sure I just don't get it, and for the most part I don't even think fighting should be allowed in sports.  But if someone throws a ball 90mph at your head, I think that entitles you to hit the guy.  This is all the more true now that we realize just how much damage a ball to the head can do long term.

Oh, and if the pitcher actually does hit you in the head, you're allowed to charge the mound with your bat.


July 28th, 2013 at 8:31 PM ^

In the NL, the pitchers have to bat, so if they throw intentionally at someone, they know they're likely going to get targetted the next time they come up. I wonder if the AL would make the pitcher take the DH's spot in the batting order for an AB, if that would reduce the amount of hit batters.


July 28th, 2013 at 10:26 PM ^

are not intentional though. Most of are just pitches meant for the inner part of the plate that get away. MLB pitchers aren't machines, they still have the occasional ball get away from them. Now in cases where it is clearly intentional I understand the batter charging the mound, but giving players free reign to charge the mound on any hit by pitches is a bad idea since it is unintentional most of the time. All that would result in is no pitchers using the inside part of the strikezone, for fear of a batter charging them if a pitch gets away from them.


July 29th, 2013 at 9:47 AM ^

Well, that's the thing: throwing at someone's head as retaliation is in fact considered a bush league thing to do.  That's why the Tigers got so pissed when Chris Sale buzzed the tower against Prince Fielder even though that was probably accidental.  It looked like a brushback to try and reclaim the interior of the plate, but it wasn't just inside.

When a pitcher goes to hit someone on purpose, he's almost always aiming for the upper arm or the thigh.  Meaty spots that won't leave any lasting damage but a bruise.


July 29th, 2013 at 12:54 PM ^

What may be bush league to you is tradition to baseball players. Pitchers have been throwing at batters intentionally to send a message forever. The only problem is that the umps nowadays make a big deal about it. Back in the day, Putkonen wouldn't have gotten thrown out for throwing at Ramirez, and Porcello wouldn't have gotten suspended for throwing at Zobrist.


July 28th, 2013 at 8:31 PM ^

Two minute minor (called unsportsmanlike conduct): Examples would be something like spraying a goalie with snow intentionally, knocking a stick out of another players hand after the whistle, diving is in this category (although has a separate rule number in the NHL rulebook), doing something annoying and excessive directed at the opposing team bench, ect. Lower grade shenanigans.

Misconduct: Non team penalty, the player sits ten minutes and it doesn't affect strength on ice. This is causing a scene with an official, mostly. Hockey referees are trained to leave the situation as much as possible to make this call obvious. If you see a guy go out of his way to argue a call, obviously use loud profane language to do the same, or get to a certain level of insult that the referee finds offensive you'll see this used.

Game misconduct: This is the really bad stuff, dropping a racial or ethnic slur on an opponent, obviously engaging a fan or opposing team official, most of the time rises to the "I know it when I see it" type standard and there's not a lot of argument from anyone involved that it was deserved.

Also note that these penalties are kind of like a "three strikes law" if you will. If you did one of the minor things three times in a game you could/would be tossed for that just like doing one serious thing.

Coach gets a game misconduct: Normally this involves some crazy shit like you see with minor league coaches emptying bench supplies onto the ice, if a coach steps onto the ice to engage an official or the official hears something really bad (say, injure number 19) from the bench, stuff like that. There's also a category above this for a coach who won't allow his team to take the ice or has some other major issue like that.


July 28th, 2013 at 6:03 PM ^

I would agree with your analysis of hockey. The culture allows players to 'sort out' certain issues. Obviously, fighting helps out a ton as well. Soccer is the worst with the NBA not far behind. I love watching soccer, but it gets old real quick when guys get bumped and then roll around for ten seconds like they were shot. The best part is when they are magically healed after they realize they did not get the call or they wish to embellish a call to stall or waste time. The NBA just allows for way too many flops. Watching Lebron run right into defensive players and then falling over when someone breaths on him. Just not good for the game. My two cents.


July 28th, 2013 at 6:19 PM ^

The problem with soccer flopping is much deeper than people realize.

It stems from the lower levels.  Go watch a high school soccer game or a club game at the U-15 ish level and count how many times there are fouls that go uncalled.  Remember a foul is any kick to the ankle, feet, shins (anywhere) whether intentional or not.

At the upper and professional levels, the players are so fast and quick that even the slightest touch can effect a play (think the tap of the elbow on a jumpshot in basketball).  These slight fouls are very difficult for referees to detect - as evidenced in the lower levels.  Therefore, players learn that in order to make sure the foul goes noticed, they have to go down.

There certainly plenty of flops without fouls and the even more egregious fake injuries, though they are not as common as non-regular soccer watchers believe.

That all said - I'll never understand why the big leagues with their dozens of HD cameras focused on every play do not bring the hammer down in fines for anyone faking an injury or embellishing to an unsportsmanlike manner.


July 28th, 2013 at 6:32 PM ^

I'd say NBA is by far the worst.  For me it is honestly unwatchable. Sure soccer has flopping, and players argue fouls, and both are very annoying, but they are also not that frequent. In NBA, and especially the stars, I feel like someone complains almost every foul, every missed shot, and every contested rebound. I think it's really embarrassing to watch.


July 28th, 2013 at 6:36 PM ^

High school baseball and softball allow the umpire to relagate someone (most of the time the coach) to the bench.  He/She is not allowed to be seen off the bench or heard.  If so the coach is then ejected.  I'm unsure of the college rule, and I'm pretty sure MLB does not have a similar rule.  As a 4-sport high school official, I really like how sportsmanship is handled.  Basketball is by far the worst.


July 28th, 2013 at 7:06 PM ^

First, diving is a two minute penalty if called, and everyone will be gunning for you the rest of the game. Arguing calls has a progression from two minutes, to ten, then a game misconduct, and again arguing means you have the other team coming for you for being a pansy, which is also most of why people don't like Crosby.


July 29th, 2013 at 6:39 AM ^

No doubt Crosby is the best player in the game today (Wings fan) however his first couple years he was a whiny crying baby and no matter how much he's changed (He has) thats a label thats hard to break in the NHL. Gretzky was the best ever and for the most part people from every team revere him.


July 29th, 2013 at 6:36 AM ^

During the game its Hockey but for post game sportsmanship its gotta be Rugby. Now where else have I seen such respect and sportsmanship no matter how ugly the game was on the field. The home team treats the away team to food and drink and atleast in the lower leagues it never gets out of hand and turns into drunken songs and laughs.

First game Navy 1981

July 29th, 2013 at 8:43 AM ^

What I think got lost in the Tigers game yesterday goes back to the run in they had with the White Sox. Same home plate umpire that threw out Pitkonen for throwing that pitch behind the Chisox player. Ump is an ass for tossing him yesterday, and should have been disciplined for not issuing the bench warning in the Chicago game.


July 29th, 2013 at 1:03 PM ^

I definitely agree about a tech late in the game or penalty for celebrating on third down is ridiculous but honestly, the problem isn't with the rules, it's with the officials. There has to be a way for an official to penalize a team, even in late game situation, if a basketball player gets in the refs face with 30 seconds left in the game and cusses him out, almost being physical. If a football player is over the top and does some crazy and disrespectful or inapproriate celebration, the ref must be able to make this call. However, some refs in the past have T'd up/ejected/thrown the flag for antics that were minor and did not call for the penalty, last night being the prime example. Maybe Fairchild can issue a warning to Cabrera, saying that another F bomb gets him tossed, but he shouldn't toss him that quickly. The rules are good, the refs are not.