September 24, 2020

By KENNETH BELLIVEAU

There have always been heated rivalries in sports, including Canada/Russia, Leafs/Canadiens, Vikings/Packers and many others.

We all enjoy the spirited fight of a game that comes down to the wire, but in the end it is simply a game. Both fans and participants of the sport need to remember that. Nothing that happens on the playing surface is worth an injury that could affect athletes for the rest of their lives.

Coverage of the most recent case of intent to injure has been all over the major sports channels, chronicling the fall of one of the most beloved sports teams, the New Orleans Saints. Head coach Sean Payton has been suspended for the 2012-2013 because he didn’t ensure his assistants and players weren’t offering bounties to injure opposing players around the league, including Brett Favre and Peyton Manning.

However, this isn’t the first time a team or player has been known to injure an athlete. One infamous incident dates back to the ’70s when Bobby Clarke went after Russian superstar Valerie Kharlamov during the sixth game of the 1972 Summit Series. According to an ESPN article, assistant coach John Ferguson Sr. admitted years after the tournament that he had sent Clarke onto the ice with the express purpose of targeting Kharlamov’s already sore ankle. Clarke slashed the Russian player’s ankle, breaking it, turning the series in Canada’s favour.

This winning at all costs mentality must stop.

Having to put on a uniform each and every day is already hard enough because athletes know that injuries are part of the business. But having someone target you is entirely different.

It has been eight years since Todd Bertuzzi maliciously attacked Steve Moore from behind with a sucker punch, ending the career of Moore at the age of 26. Bertuzzi was suspended the rest of the year, but has been playing ever since, even earning $1.9 million this season.

When will we stop calling it part of the game and instead start cracking down on those who have lost respect for it? No game should be a blood sport.