Violence In Sports

Written by Posted On Friday, 07 October 2022 00:00

Ya gotta knock somebody down.” I could hear Head Coach Vince Lombardi of the Green Bay Packers yell from the sidelines as I refereed games during my 31-year career as an NFL referee when I officiated games in Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Lombardi, one of ‘The Seven Blocks of Granite’ of Fordham University’s 1930s football team, was shouting to encourage his players that they must block and tackle during the game if they want to win. Lombardi’s method of blocking and tackling was solely with their shoulders and body – never with their helmets or head. Of course, in those days players helmets were of made of leather.

Today’s NFL players are using Riddell helmets made of plastic as are college and high school players. That often gives the players a false sense of safety which they believe allows them protection from injuryBlocking and tackling with the crown of the helmet is an unsportsmanlike conduct foul (15-yard penalty) and can often be called “targeting” leading to disqualification. Further, and more importantly, that type of contact can lead to cervical and spinal injuries with life-threatening results. The use of the helmet for tackling and blocking is highly discouraged at all levels of football.

Football is not the only sport that lends itself to aggressive play. Soccer, which is more frequently called football elsewhere, is a popular sport in the U.S. as well and is considered a contact sport.

These players are not wearing football-type uniforms yet make physical-type contact while the ball is in play. Further, soccer players often use their heads as use of their hands while the ball is in-play is illegal. The ball is often traveling some 30 plus MPH when contacting a player’s head. No foul is called for use of the head.

Basketball must be labelled a contact sport as well. I heard a former NBA and now Hall-of-Fame player who is a current NBA announcer say on television, “Ya gotta knock somebody down.” No, it was not Coach Lombardi. But he was sincere in his commentary. Do fans want to see that type of play in basketball? Evidently, they do as the NBA style is fast-growing and adopted by colleges and high schools.

Violent events are displayed by television programs that fill a large majority of our days. Do we want to accept this as normal or acceptable behavior?

Will you do all you can to avoid and even prevent violence in your world?

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Dr. Jim Tunney

Jim Tunney had an exemplary career in sports. A former high school coach, teacher, principal and district superintendent, he had a 40-year career in officiating football and basketball.

Thirty-one of those years he was an NFL Referee working a record twenty-nine post-season games including four Super Bowls, ten NFC/AFC Championship games, six Pro Bowls and twenty-five Monday Night Games.

He officiated some of the most memorable games in NFL history. His book Impartial Judgment: “The Dean of NFL Referees” Calls Pro Football As He Sees It, chronicles his NFL career.

As a Professional Speaker, he is Past President of The National Speakers Association and a Charter Member of its most prestigious group – The CPAE Speakers Hall of Fame. Jim holds every professional designation of the NSA, including the Oscar of Professional Speaking – The Cavett. NSA named him Philanthropist of the Year in 2007.

Dr. Tunney (a doctorate in Education from the University of Southern California) continues to serve his community as  Trustee Emeritus of both Monterey Peninsula College and York School; where he once served as Headmaster. In 1993, he founded the Jim Tunney Youth Foundation to support local community programs that develop leadership, work skills, wellness and self-esteem in youth. He and his wife Linda live in Pebble Beach, California. They have six children and sixteen grandchildren.

As an author he has written and/or co-authored thirteen books: Impartial Judgment, Chicken Soup for the Sports Fan’s Soul, Speaking Secrets of the Masters, You Can Do It!, Super Bowl Sunday, Insights into Excellence, Lessons in Leadership, Build a Better You and his most recent book, It’s the Will, Not the Skill.

If you are looking for a keynote speaker who educates, motivates and entertains with a lifetime of stories about leadership, team building and sports 831-595-3258.

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