The NBA's recent suspension of referee Joey Crawford seems to be part of a recent trend towards extremely harsh punishments handed out in professional sports. Crawford, who was suspended indefinitely last week by NBA commissioner David Stern, was recently involved in a verbal altercation with San Antonio player Tim Duncan.
After calling an earlier technical foul against Duncan, Crawford called a second one after hearing Duncan laughing and commenting about a call Crawford made. Crawford then ejected Duncan and allegedly repeatedly asked Duncan if he would like to fight him. Crawford has a history of a short temper and calling an inordinate amount of technical fouls, including nine in a two-game span back in 2003. He is suspended at least through the NBA Finals and must meet with Stern to discuss his reinstatement.
This suspension follows the year-long suspension of Tennessee Titans cornerback Adam "Pacman" Jones by the NFL. Jones, who has multiple incidents involving the police in his short NFL career, was recently called in and questioned about his involvement in a club fight that led to a triple shooting in Las Vegas back in February.
These punishments are all well-deserved and there is no reason as to why they should not continue. The overblown egos and poor behavior of professional athletes, coaches and referees are an embarrassment to their respective leagues, organizations and fans. The negative image and publicity generated by these overpaid individuals place a bad name on all professional sports. If extreme suspensions and huge fines that often total more than an average person makes in a year are the solution then fans should demand more of them and the leagues should have no problem complying. It is in the interest of the leagues to hold their athletes, coaches and referees to the highest code of conduct.
The NFL has taken several steps in the right direction with the implementation of a new player and personnel code of conduct that led to the harsh suspensions of Jones and Cincinnati wide receiver Chris Henry, who was suspended for eight games. Jones, on the surface, has responded positively, taking out a full-page ad, apologizing to the league, the team and his fans. Jones has also re-enrolled in West Virginia University to finish his degree. While it remains to be seen whether he will be able to rein in his unacceptable and wild behavior, it seems to be a step in the right direction.
Professional athletes will never be perfect, but, reducing the culture of violence and a lack of responsibility for personal actions is a step in the right direction. Otherwise the media will continue to be filled with stories of out-of-control young men who bring nothing but trouble to their organization.