Sportsmanship


I’ve been arguing over football since Monday.  A Vikings fan or two thinks the Saints are a dirty team because they went after Brett Favre, I think particularly with one or two of the hits he took.  Especially the high-low hit.  But if you watch the play, the offensive linemen were engaged with the defensive linemen, and their combined force pushed the DL’s into the quarterback, which is probably why it wasn’t flagged.  Anyway, these Vikings folks say that it was ‘classless’ for the Saints to attack the guy that way.

I just don’t see it that way.  Of course, I’m a Saints fan.  But I’m a sports fan, too.  And my observation, over many years of watching the elite play against each other, is that, to win, they target the opponent’s weaknesses, and try to chip away at his strengths.  Every time.  When Federer plays Nadal, and sees that he’s limping a little, or doesn’t stretch like he normally does, he exploits that weakness as long as he can.  Nadal will try to compensate, and Federe will spot another hole in Nadal’s game, and it goes back and forth.  Seldom does an opponent not know where to attack his adversary.  They study game-film to find it.  It might be subtle or it might be obvious.  Football teams do this every week.  As long as there’s been film, NFL teams have gotten the last three performances by their opponent to study, to try and devise a scheme that will beat the other team.

Now, I’m not saying that the Saints should be awarded halos.  Professional-level adversarial sports are brutal, animalistic.  Even in ‘tame’ baseball, runners slide into second base with their spikes forward, attacking the base defender, and look to bowl over the catcher when headed home.  Pitchers use the inside pitch to push the batter back away from the plate.  Sometimes they even hit the batter on purpose.  Basketball players have their techniques as well, and so do hockey players.  Every sport has its underbelly, except the ones where you’re fighting against something natural, like golf or skiing.  Even ice skating has its Tonya Harding.  Most fans of NASCAR watch to see the crashes.

Anyway, if you think the Saints are dirty for what they did to Favre, you probably should stop watching sports.  At least team sports.  I will admit that I felt sorry for how unprotected Brett was.  His line let him down, letting him get hit, while avoiding any sacks.  I’m proud, for once, of the Saints, they did what was necessary to move to the next game, and they needed every ounce of advantage to do it.  Sorry, Vikings fans.

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