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Tuesday Hot Take: Fighting in Sports is (usually) a Good Thing

My fingers were so fiery, I couldn’t wait for the Live Blog’s #HotTakeTimeout at the under-eight media timeout.  Before I begin, let me say I am not encouraging assault, hence the “usually” in the title.  

While others jeer, I cheer every time I see fighting in sports.  It’s not that I want to see the return of the gladiators.  I appreciate and admire those who use their mental toughness as an advantage to break down the opponent until he (or she) retaliates.

Halfway through the second half in Athens, after run-ins with Georgia’s Diatta Pape on consecutive possessions, Isaiah Briscoe got in a scuffle and was awarded a technical foul, his fourth personal foul.  Many fans responded with comments like, “What a punk;” “There’s no room for that in basketball;” “Get that head-case to the bench.”

Isaiah Briscoe’s technical foul was stupid, but not just because he was pushing and shoving.  There’s a time and place for trash-talking that incites altercations.

Before explaining why “fights” like that are good, let me call out all of those who make the loaded comments about “punks” who fight during games.  You think those people said the same thing about Bill Laimbeer?

Fighting is a part of sports and should be treated as another tool when used appropriately.

What makes it appropriate will surprise you.  The aggressor is the one who always wins.  The refs always catch the retaliator.  The aggressor preys on the mentally weak by pinching them, stepping on their feet, or with a simple, steady flow of trash talk.  If that person reacts just once, the aggressor has got inside their head and they are done for the day.

Emotions run high in sports.  Seeing an altercation is a sign of competitiveness.  Some might say it shows that they care, a criticism levied against this Kentucky team just two weeks ago.  People don’t get in fights if they aren’t whole-heartedly invested in winning.

There is a trick to it.  On the basketball court, you have to do it early in the game.  If you wait until later in the game, the technical can take you out of the game.  Briscoe’s technical was his fourth personal foul and essentially ended his day.  The tool is most effective if you can mentally take your opponent out of the game in the early stages.

In football there’s a fine line you cannot cross.  It’s a simple line: don’t throw a punch.  It’s easier to mess with your opponent in football, but much more difficult to receive a significant payout.  Linemen can jaw the entire game and mess with people in pile-ups.  However, the best trash-talking happens between corners and receivers.  I’m sure Derrick Baity has exchanged some words with his opponents, but never pulled a Cortland Finnegan.

The greatest advantage in football: the penalty hurts much less than a technical foul.

Altercations in basketball should be deregulated.  There are extreme cases that should be excluded.  The Tates Creek-Henry Clay girls’ fight got grotesque and the D-III player who threw a sucker-punch deserves assault charges.  But for minor scraps, handing out a double-technical is insulting.  It accomplishes nothing.  There’s jawing at every level of every sport.  If that’s wrong, then I don’t want to be right.

Article written by Nick Roush

"Look upon the doughnut, and not upon the hole." @RoushKSR

23 Comments for Tuesday Hot Take: Fighting in Sports is (usually) a Good Thing

  1. WildcatRX7
    10:24 am February 21, 2017 Permalink

    I know you are young, but, yes, people absolutely said the same thing by Bill Laimbeer. He was called everything in the book in his time and is primarily known for being one of the dirtiest all time players in the NBA (if not sports).

    • Melvit
      10:46 am February 21, 2017 Permalink

      I logged in to say the same thing. ESPN made a 30 for 30 about that Pistons team being the “Bad boys”, which might be where is clip came from.

    • CATandMONKEY
      11:33 am February 21, 2017 Permalink

      Lambeer was most definitely considered a “thug.”

    • runningunnin.454
      12:19 pm February 21, 2017 Permalink

      Laimbeer? How old are you, exactly?
      Do you know Laimbeer now coaches a women’s team, and was voted WNBA coach of the year?

    • Megan
      6:26 pm February 22, 2017 Permalink

      Yes, our boy Nick here is channeling Laimbeer, who rationalized his thuggery the same way: If I can get into your head, you’re thinking more about me than about the game. That’s a victory for us.

      Nick should be embarrassed for defending this line of thinking. Absolutely amoral.

  2. Rain1940
    10:46 am February 21, 2017 Permalink

    Roush, your posts have gone from immaterial to ignorant and in this case uninformed and stupid. There is NO place for fighting in sports. Laimbeer was a thug on the court and Briscoe isn’t far behind.

    • RackEmWillie
      10:50 am February 21, 2017 Permalink

      When it’s 3rd and 10, you can take the milk drinkers and I’ll take the whiskey drinkers every time.

  3. abelincoln
    10:55 am February 21, 2017 Permalink

    Briscoe did not receive a technical foul against Georgia. It was called a common foul after review.

    • Megan
      7:17 pm February 22, 2017 Permalink


  4. rainman
    11:09 am February 21, 2017 Permalink

    Dumbest thing I “almost” read on here!

  5. Steady
    11:22 am February 21, 2017 Permalink

    Big difference with Briscoe’s mouth, his game doesn’t back it up, not even close.

  6. t_f_licker
    11:36 am February 21, 2017 Permalink

    I can’t speak for everyone that grew up watching basketball during that era, but I for one called Laimbeer much worse than a punk. Seriously, this is one of the dumbest articles I’ve ever read. Are we going for a Colin Coherd with this one?

  7. rockatao
    11:38 am February 21, 2017 Permalink

    If the refs don’t give out the double technicals, then the crap will escalate throughout the game until you end up with a serious fight. Nip it in the bud early.

  8. Marj
    11:54 am February 21, 2017 Permalink

    Everyone called Laimbeer a punk then and now.

  9. Kernel Sanders
    12:16 pm February 21, 2017 Permalink

    I like a team with some fight in it. If an opposing player knocks your teammate down, then yeah, come to his defense. If you drive the lane and get mugged, then yeah, jump up and defend yourself. If an opponent is heading for a layup in a tight game, then yeah, foul him hard enough that he won’t make the layup.

    But when you say “there is a trick to it. On the basketball court, you have to do it early in the game. If you wait until later in the game, the technical can take you out of the game.” Then you are condoning premeditated punkness. In other words, you don’t think you can beat these guys unless you resort to tactics that aren’t intended to be part of the game, and you decide to do this early in the game? This is the reason we are all taught from our first day on the court or the field to show some class and respect for your opponent.

    Not surprised Nick Roush can’t grasp that. Stupid article. Stupid premise.

  10. 2Dogs
    12:41 pm February 21, 2017 Permalink

    Is this April Fool’s Day?

  11. runningunnin.454
    12:51 pm February 21, 2017 Permalink

    I liked the article, and I like players that don’t take crap, like our own Boogie and Briscoe.
    Some call it fight, some say killer instinct, many say “every great athlete has a mean streak”.
    Every sport has had it’s bad boys, from MLB’s Ty Cobb and Honus Wagner, NBA’s Laimbeer and Rodman, to NFL’s Mean Joe Greene.
    I once saw Kareem Abdul Jabbar, a skinny guy you would never think would want to fight, cold-cock at guy and the guy was “counted out”.
    Why is hockey so popular….their skating prowess or something else?

  12. unbridled
    1:30 pm February 21, 2017 Permalink

    Obviously “gamesmanship” is a very large aspect in sports. This article is soooo stupid that it doesn’t warrant a response. Fighting? Has Nick Roush ever played sports beyond jr high? What a dumb article.

  13. jonesdoc17
    1:51 pm February 21, 2017 Permalink

    Surely this is supposed to be satire. I read the posts on KSR daily and this is the worst one I have ever seen. Briscoe was lucky they called the late foul @Georgia as a common foul. I don’t understand how you can defend acting that way, yet alone call for players to embrace it.

    • maximumscott
      2:03 pm February 21, 2017 Permalink

      He got elbowed twice in the neck area. im fine with it. No punches, just a take down. A little pay back.

    • unbridled
      3:11 pm February 21, 2017 Permalink

      I’m fine with it too. It was a surprisingly very good take down, but he should have been ejected. Briscoe’s antics don’t change the fact that this article is completely stupid.

  14. BigBlueMeade
    2:02 pm February 21, 2017 Permalink

    Everyone loves it when Ulis acts tough, but there is something about Briscoe that this fanbase does not like for some reason and I don’t get it. I love when he gets in a guys face and jaws to the guy pushing him around. Briscoe does not go around throwing punches or anything and does not try to purposely hurt dudes. All Briscoe does is go out and get his own and let guys know that he might be short, but he isn’t going to take any crap from the other, bigger guys.

    • unbridled
      3:08 pm February 21, 2017 Permalink

      1. Tyler Ulis was really good and consistent.
      2. Do you feel the same towards Grayson Allen?