Sports often thrive on controversy. Nobody remembers the dull game, but they always remember the game that ends on a controversial call, or has an incident during the game that changes the momentum of the sport. Controversies have been part of what draws more attention to a team or sport and whether they cause negative or positive feedback, the free advertising controversy provides is great for bringing in more fans and money. When it comes to 2014, there have been many sports controversies both on and off the field. Take a look at these worthy conflicts that have changed the game for players and fans alike.
World Cup 2014
All the world stopped to watch the 2014 World Cup, and for those who like controversy, they were not disappointed. Of all the crazy turns of the tournament, perhaps the biggest involved Uruguay’s Luis Suarez and his penchant for biting opponents. During his team’s 1-0 victory over Italy on June 26, Suarez was cited for biting Giorgio Chiellini of Italy while going for a loose ball. As a result, Suarez was banned from the remainder of the World Cup and found himself vilified for his actions.
Donald Sterling and the L.A. Clippers
During the NBA playoffs this past spring, controversy erupted when Clippers owner Donald Sterling was caught on audio tape using a variety of racially-insensitive remarks directed at African-Americans. Because his team is composed mostly of African-Americans and coached by Doc Rivers, also an African-American, the remarks quickly stirred lots of reaction among fans and the team. Since the team was involved in the playoffs at the time of the incident, there were rumors of a possible boycott of the playoff games by the players. It was also reported that coach Rivers, who has a Master’s in coaching education, stated he would not return as coach if Mr. Sterling continued on as owner. After an investigation, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver banned Sterling from the league for life and forced the sale of the team.
Washington Redskins Name Game
Controversy continued to swirl around the debate of how offensive this team’s name is to Native Americans. Owner Daniel Snyder, despite pressure to change the name, again reiterated there would be no name change this or any other year as long as he was owner. However, on June 18 the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office canceled the team’s federal trademark registrations, saying the name was too offensive. Despite this, Snyder vowed to fight on, so undoubtedly more legal action will follow.
While sports can certainly be more exciting when a bit of controversy exists, it can also take away from the joy of being a fan. Due to negative review and publicity, these and other controversies have meant taking a hit for the game in terms or fans and supporters. We all know how exciting these escapades can be, but many teams now take steps to prevent these from ever occurring. As 2014 marches to an end, hopefully the action on the field will surpass the controversy taking place off the field.