COLUMN: Is life taking a backseat in professional sports?

By CHRIS ZADOROZNY, Sports Editor

Two lives, taken way too soon, in a tragic and sad way. A $250,000 fine for resting certain players. It’s December and an NHL game has yet to be played since last June.

Human lives seem to become less and less important in professional sports. These events above are obviously way different situations, and you may think that they aren’t connected.

Saturday morning, as many of us were just waking up, two people were dying in one of the most tragic ways, murder and suicide. Neither of these are acceptable in our society, the last one being the most touchy of subjects.

Kansas City Chiefs linebacker, Jovan Belcher took his own life at the Kansas City Chiefs practice facility not long after killing his on-again, off-again girlfriend in front of her own mother.Chris Z Headshot

The NFL forced the Carolina Panthers to continue with travel plans that day to Kansas City, even though in 27 hours, both would be competing in a regular season game. Later that evening, the Chiefs players voted to play the game.

The San Antonio Spurs were in some hot water late last week, after Head Coach Gregg Popovich sent home his top four players after they had played six games in nine days, spanning 5,500 miles and two countries.

Playing in a nationally televised game against the defending NBA champion Miami Heat in South Beach, Popovich sent home Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, and Danny Green. It was a head coaching decision to rest his best players, to keep them fresh for the following night, as they would play the Memphis Grizzlies who are in first place in the Western Conference (the Spurs are in second place).

Apparently, it’s so wrong to deprive the fans (even though most Heat fans would presumably come watch Lebron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and newcomer Ray Allen) of talent on national television.

NBA commissioner David Stern decided that he should “fine” the Spurs for not doing what is in the best interest of the fans, instead of the best interest of his team, which in most people’s books is absolutely idiotic.

Finally, the NHL is now four months into its lockout. They have yet to come to an agreement on splitting the revenue, which at one point was as close as three million a part. That has since changed and the players and owners are still arguing over splitting revenue and games have been cancelled up until Friday, December 14 (although it’s looking like more games will be off the schedule soon).

Think of all of the people that their income rests on these NHL games, those who own businesses around the arenas, those who work in the arenas. I work for the Detroit Tigers as an Usher, and if their season was in a lockout because of money, I would be pissed off. I need to earn a paycheck, and it’s not always about the players, it’s about those who help put the game together.

How does this all add up? Human lives are involved here, some more intense than others. In Kansas City the players are so affected by this situation, that they think they can go out and play a game, 27 hours after one of their teammates, not only committed suicide but murder as well.

I can see where they come from, as I lost my grandfather almost 10 years ago, and I decided to play in my hockey game that night.

I told myself that’s what he would’ve wanted as he pushed for me to play. I loved it, I played for him, I got a hat trick that night, all for him, even shedding some tears in the process. It helped to play, but it didn’t get me away from the reality that he was gone, even on the ice and after I got off.

It shocks me knowing the NFL wanted a game to go on, even though something like this happened. Does Roger Goodell really value money over human life? It’s pretty obvious he does, and the players, well, they played for Belcher, but also advocating at the game against domestic abuse.

It was a great gesture, something I was proud to see, but it doesn’t change what happened. Something else that was shocking was much of the reaction on social media. Facebook and Twitter was abuzz with the news, and of course, from what I saw, it was very somber and sad.

Many prayers were sent out to the families, teammates and many others who were affected by this tragedy, but some tweets and Facebook statuses proved that even during something so horrific, people like to make jokes.

Most of the jokes were fantasy football related and how their team was going to perform. REALLY?! Are you that pathetic to care more about how you’re going to do in fantasy football rather than worry about how this is affecting the people involved? Do you have no soul?

Put yourself in the shoes of General Manager Scott Pioli or head coach Romeo Crennel, what if you witnessed this suicide, but could do nothing to stop it, or was the victim’s mom, watching her daughter get murdered?

How would you live with yourself knowing this, seeing this, being a part of it? If you value money (NFL, Gary Bettman, NHL Owners) over human life, or fantasy football over human life, I have news for you, and it’s not good. Go get yourself checked, because it’s obvious you have no soul, no feelings, and certainly no brain.

If you ever have thoughts about suicide or need help, please, talk to someone, because I promise you, there are people out there who want to listen, who want to help, who want to be your friend. If you need help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

The Jovan Belcher situation in the NFL, the San Antonio Spurs and the NBA, and the NHL Lockout have all had lives taking a back seat in favor of other things.

Jovan Belcher (left)
Kansas City Chiefs LB Jovan Belcher killed his girlfriend, Kassandra Perkins in front of her mom Saturday morning.

He then drove to the Chiefs practice facility, meeting General Manager Scott Pioli and Head Coach Romeo Crennel.

He then thanked them for giving him an opportunity to play in the NFL before shooting himself in front of them.

Belcher was an undrafted free agent out of Maine in 2009. They leave behind a three-month old daughter, Zoey.

Belcher was 25 years old at the time of his death. He played four years in the Chiefs organization.

San Antonio Spurs (center)
The San Antonio Spurs were fined $250,000 for resting their star players on national television.

Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, and Danny Green were all sent home by head coach Greg Popovich.
The team played six games, in nine days covering 5,500 miles and two countries.

Popovich sent the players home because the very next night, they would travel from Miami, Florida, back home to San Antonio to play the Western Conference leadng Memphis Grizzlies.
The age had a factor in the decision as well. Duncan is 36, Parker is 30, Ginobili is 35, and Green is 25.

NHL (right)
The NHL is in the fourth month of its lockout. Splitting revenue is the main source of the problem.

The NHL forced a lockout in September, and games have been cancelled up until Friday, December 14.

A federal mediation commission was even brought in to ease tensions, but couldn’t resolve much.

The Detroit Red Wings were set to host the 2013 Bridgestone Winter Classic against the Toronto Maple Leafs on New Year’s Day, but has since been cancelled.
The jobs lost include the players and those who work at the arena and surrounding area.

 

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