A Brief Note on Brawling Etiquette
Safe to say that by now we’ve all most likely seen footage of Saturday night’s throwdown between
And usually, that’s a good thing. Nothing quite like a hearty round of fisticuffs to liven up a sporting event (assuming of course that no one ends up severely injured, dismembered, or gets a trident thrown into his chest by an confused, overzealous and perhaps mentally retarded weatherman).
But on Saturday night, the respective brawling factions clearly crossed a couple of lines, and the specific infractions needs to be addressed here and now so that we’re all on the same page for the next time a group of athletes decides to entertain us with a large-scale melee.
Infraction #1 – The Helmet Swing: In case you missed it, at one point during the fight Miami safety Anthony Reddick came running into a pile of brawling individuals and, as though he were a butcher attempting to cleave a particularly chewy slab of rump steak, swung his helmet down to strike an unsuspecting FIU player.
Pretty gruesome moment, right? Well, not exactly.
You know the old routine where one sports commentator says, “On paper these two teams were pretty evenly matched,” and then the other guy says, “Well that’s why they don’t play the games on paper!” and then looks really quite pleased with himself?
Well, on paper Reddick’s helmet swing sounds pretty awful, and on some level it clearly was. But when I first saw the video, it was hard to stifle a laugh, and I know the other people in the room with me at the time shared the same impulse. (I know this because most of them immediately started cackling out loud.)
And I think the reason behind our amusement was primarily because it was so blatantly a questionable move on Reddick’s part. This was as cheap of a cheap shot as you can possibly take. Not only did he swing at a man who wasn’t looking at him, but he escalated the rules of the fight by adding in a new piece of equipment/weaponry that no one else was using. I already alluded to the scene in Anchorman where Brick Tamland is suddenly and without warning chucking a trident at another individual in the fight, and though Reddick wasn’t hoisting up a four-pronged death spear normally used by Lucifer himself, he pretty much crossed all lines by taking off his helmet and opting to use it as a bludgeon.
So why was this funny again?
1) It was one of those cheap shots that just looked lame. You know how some cheap shots make you cringe and others make you feel strangely sorry for the pathetic bastard who attempted it? This falls into the latter category. It was a lame, desperate move by a guy who clearly wanted to get involved in the fight but before having that ingenious idea couldn’t figure out how to do so.
2) The moment after he swung the helmet, Reddick immediately popped up off the pile and assumed a defensive stance, helmet still in hand. He was either thinking, “Okay, who else can I crack with this helmet,” or perhaps more likely he knew that after such an incredibly uncalled for maneuver he’d better watch his ass because someone was going to take him down.
Infraction #2 – Stomping: Okay, so if there was anything remotely amusing about the helmet swing, even if it is just a product of my disturbed sense of humor, it goes without saying that there was absolutely nothing even remotely comical about seeing multiple players getting stomped while on the ground, including some instances where it appeared that one player was getting stomped on by multiple people at the same time.
This is where it turns from, Hey, this is great, these two teams are really knocking the piss out of each other to Oh my God I think they’re actually trying to kill people. There’s a clear-cut moment where this fight goes from edgy to scary, and it’s precisely when you can see that people are getting stomped.
My take on it is this: Things happen in the heat of a fight. Adrenaline, fear and desperation make you do stupid things. You scratch, you spit, you claw, slap, sometimes even take off something you’re wearing (such as a helmet) and start clubbing people with it.
But there’s something about stomping on another person on the ground that’s disturbingly premeditated if not downright evil. It’s sick and flat-out 100 percent wrong, and just like I can’t believe Albert Haynesworth of the Titans didn’t get suspended for the full season for stomping on Andre Gurode of the Cowboys, I can almost guarantee that anyone who stomped on someone else during the Miami-FIU fight will not get an appropriately harsh punishment.
A couple other thoughts to add before I start to sound like an attorney, at which point I shall have to request that one of you club me about the dome with a replica helmet purchased from the University of Miami gift shop:
- It’s pretty amusing at the very start of the fight, right when things are really starting to escalate, to see the referees from all over the field start to throw their penalty flags. How well-trained are these guys? I mean, here’s a full-on fight breaking out and all these guys can think is (cue nerdy voice): “Umm…wait a second…that’s an infraction! You’ll be penalized for that! I’m throwing my flag!” Are they cyborgs? I understand that it’s their job to throw the flag when they see something wrong, but the sight of several of them chucking their flags at once highlights the absurdity of the whole situation and primarily the fact that they have no idea what to do in such a circumstance other than throw their yellow ribbons like pre-programmed drones.
- I know I’ve already mentioned the famous brawl scene in Anchorman twice now, but did anyone else see the clear-cut underdog FIU players mixing it up with the bigger, stronger
players, wonder how they got the inspiration to do so and think of the Tim Robbins character’s memorable rallying cry before the Anchorman brawl: “Not so fast, you ingrates. Public News Team is taking a break from its pledge drive to kick some ass. No commercials, no mercy!” Miami