By now it’s old news how NCAA college football gloriously began its’ 2009 season last Thursday evening: With a bang! Actually, with a right hook to the jaw of Boise State player Byron Hout! Apparently Hout had taunted Oregon’s starting tailback, Legarrette Blount right after Boise State’s 19 – 8 win.
Blount, who had been quoted before the game talking about what he was going to single-handedly do to his weaker opponents in predicting the Oregon Ducks “win,” was completely shut down by the Broncos. It’s not clear what Hout said to him. What is clear is that Blount’s frustration boiled over and he completely snapped.
There had been high hopes for the Duck’s 2009 season after finishing last year ranked #9 in the country. Blount had rushed for over a 1000 yards as well. In this game he had been held to negative yardage and it was all too much for him to bear.
Several Oregon players were already angrily fighting amongst themselves over the loss and then Hout got in Blount’s face, most likely regarding his pre-game comments. As Hout turned to walk away, Blount sucker-punched him, knocking him to the ground. As he was leaving the field fans continued to taunt Blount who had to be restrained by police. I don’t know about you, but I got warm fuzzies all over, watching this fine display of sportsmanship after a “battle” well fought.
As a result of this highly publicized incident, Blount has been suspended for the entire season! He will be allowed to practice with the Ducks but will not be able to play in any games. Hout’s punishment was less severe: His coaches said that he will be “internally disciplined” for his role in triggering this ugly event. Ahh, the joy of taunting, trash-talking and excessive celebrations!
What can we learn from this heart-warming experience? The fact that Blount clearly has impulse control and anger management problems is besides the point. The guy needs forgiveness and help. Hopefully that’s exactly what he’ll get at school. Maybe he can even learn what he needs to in order to better function in the world before he really gets himself into some hot water.
The primary lesson for the rest of us is that if sports should teach us anything of value, it should be a vehicle to teach us to become better individuals. It should teach us to be humble and selfless, to put our own needs behind those of our team. It should teach us to be a good sport, to be honest and to play fair. It should teach us to respect our teammates and especially our opponents, and to see the latter as our partners in a mutual pursuit of excellence. Sports should teach us to set aside our egos and self-aggrandizing behaviors like bragging and putting others down. Sports should teach us to work hard for a worthy goal and to accept both victory and defeat with class.
There should be no room for trash talking and taunting in our competitive games at any level! These behaviors are tacky and show a complete lack of class. Athletes who resort to these behaviors have lost perspective about what’s really important in the game and life. Winning is not what it’s really about. It’s about HOW you go about the winning. It’s about how you conduct yourself that truly determines your status as a winner and champion.