Column: Line Drives — Cooler heads must prevail

[This is my column in The Commercial Review from today.]

In sports, violence is sometimes present and unavoidable.

Violence in hockey, for example, is a crucial part of the game. And for some, it is what draws them to the sport.

Players are skating fast, hitting each other on the open ice at full speed. Then there’s the most exciting part of the sport, the fights.

Almost everyone loves a good hockey fight.

In recent years, the violence of football has come into the limelight, especially with the more than $700 million settlement between the National Football League and former players over concussions.

Football is violent by nature. Gigantic men running full speed at one another colliding like a head-on car crash.

It’s what people like to see; the big hits.

But what doesn’t belong on a football field is violent behavior that leads to fighting.

In early September, Joey Cominsky, a high school football player in Pennsylvania, ripped off the helmet of opposing player Josh Hartmann during an on-field skirmish.

What happened next, however, was unnecessary.

Cominsky proceeded to use Hartmann’s helmet against him as a weapon, hitting him numerous times across the shoulders and head.

Hartmann’s teammate Taylor Prentice and Comisky were both ejected from the game after the brouhaha.

In Indianapolis, an Arsenal Tech player was tackled out of bounds by a Fort Wayne South Side player during the third quarter Friday, drawing a late-hit penalty.

Unfortunately, the play triggered a brawl between the two squads, including a handful of coaches.

Indianapolis Tech athletics director Victor Bush has dismissed the volunteer assistant coach involved in the fight, and on Tuesday, Indiana High School Athletic Association commissioner Bobby Cox issued a ruling putting the two programs on probation and suspending several players and coaches.

“Both programs are placed on probation for the remainder of the 2013 season and all of the 2014 season,” the IHSAA press release said. “Probation is official notice that serious violations have occurred, are a matter of record and future, similar incidents will not be tolerated.

“Both head coaches, Emil Ekyior of Arsenal Technical and Eddie Fields of South Side, are suspended for their next varsity football game. Arsenal Technical assistant coach Angelo Muhammad and South Side assistant coach Dan Muchler are both suspended for the remainder of the 2013-14 season.

“Student-athletes as identified by each school shall be suspended for one contest for their roles in this exchange, and their suspensions may be spread over the remaining three regular season contests.”

The press release says the members of both coaching staffs must complete the National Federation of High School Associations Sportsmanship Course and NFHS Teaching and Modeling Behavior Course prior to the state tournament in order to continue to coach during that time.

All players present at the contest are also required to complete the sportsmanship course prior to the state tournament as well, the press release said. Also, a representative from the IHSAA will be present at the remaining football games for both schools to monitor behavior.

No exact number of player suspensions has been released, but the punishments fit the crime. There is absolutely no need for fighting on the football field, especially between coaches.

Some violence on the football field or on the hockey rink, during play, is unavoidable. It’s the nature of the games.

It’s even understandable that sometimes tempers flair and emotions escalate. But cooler heads must prevail.

Players and coaches must take it upon themselves to prevent the totally inexcusable acts of violence that have been plaguing sports lately.

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