Matthew Johns’ alter ego Reg Reagan has been calling for the return of “the Biff” for a few years now, and it seems people are starting to listen. Tim posted his opinion on violence in sport in his blog a little while ago – I figured I’d get in on the action following Willie Mason’s one week suspension and $5000 fine for his one punch knock out of British Prop Stuart Fielden.
While Tim argued for violence in sport to be reduced to more civilised levels – I’m going to argue in the other direction. Sport is played for the benefit of the fans. Fans, as demonstrated by many years of blood sport attendance, love a bit of biff. That’s why State of Origin used to be so much fun. There was a good chance someone was going to be clocked on the noggin in a good old fashioned donnybrook.
That’s why the Tri Nations – despite Nathan Fien’s grannygate efforts – have been the most exciting international Rugby League series in years. And it’s why Rugby Union is a game full of pansies… (that ought to get some comments). AFL goes the closest to condoning a bit of fisticuffs of any of the major codes – with punches allowed provided you’re holding onto your opponents jersey.
The National Hockey League – Canada’s premiere sporting brand (Ice Hockey – nb the NHL also involves teams from the US – but its origins are Canadian) – has started a campaign to decrease their game’s violent image – cracking down on the legalised biffs that used to happen on the rink. The NHL is perhaps the most brutally violent sporting competition (ruling out boxing and other dedicated bloodsports). And this is why…
That punch resulted in a career ending injury for the victim and a long running series of law suits. However, there have been lengthier sentences handed out for other incidents like these:
There are all sorts of interesting legal ramifications for the assaults that occur under the guise of a sporting contest – Les Boyd (a former League star) was sued by walking outhouse, Darryl Brohman following an elbow to the head that left him with a broken jaw.
Traditionally considered a game for fairies – Football (or soccer as it’s known in only 2 countries – America and Australia) has had its fair share of on field violence
with Scottish firebrand Duncan Ferguson, who may be on his way to the A League, serving jail time for a headbutt. Irish psycho Roy Keane was sued for intentionally breaking an opponents leg following the publication of his autobiography. And my personal favourite was this incident featuring Eric Cantona. I’ve put this video up before I think, but I like it so much I’ll post it again.