Below the Belt
Anderson Varejao is, at least from what I can tell, a pretty irritating guy on the basketball court. This isn't really a bad thing, it's just the role he plays for the Cleveland Cavaliers. You can find him mixing it up with opposing players fairly often and complaining to the refs a few times a game about a foul he doesn't think he committed.
Agree with him or not, Varejao has helped the team clinch the league's best record this season in a variety of ways. He can start or come off the bench, fill in for injured players, he rebounds, plays defense, sets picks, and provides the bit of muscle that every good team needs. He even pokes fun at his teammates in practice and participates in silly pregame routines.
I believe that Varejao is like all of us: he has his good qualities and his bad qualities. None of us are perfect-- especially not on the court-- but we don't have to worry about millions of people witnessing the things we do via television or as spectators in an arena. Varejao does, and perhaps his reputation isn't what it should be because of incidents like the one Sunday involving the Celtics' Ray Allen.
If you haven't seen the incident, I must first ask you about the rock you've been living under. I realize that you might have turned the game off because the Cavs were beating the pants off of the Celtics most of the afternoon, but you probably should have caught a replay on just about any highlight show. At any rate, feel free to have a gander below.
Does Varejao throw Allen to the ground? Were the Cavs running up the score a little too much against an injured and overmatched Boston team? Did they later celebrate a little too much and break some of the unwritten rules of sportsmanship? Whatever your answer to those questions, there's one thing that I am certain of.
No man should ever, under any circumstance, hit another man in the balls. Period.
Men will be men and boys will be boys and fights are bound to take place. This is an accepted truth that can be verified across professional sports and in everyday life. Guys can throw punches, yell, kick, scream, say nasty things about each others' mothers, pull out guns, knives and other miscellaneous weapons, throw chairs, spit and curse in the throes of a heated exchange. Some of these things will get you in trouble with the law, others won't. Some are just socially unacceptable. Like elbowing another guy in the stones.
I've heard people say, "There's no such thing as a fair fight," meaning that any tactic they can use to gain the upper hand is fair play. Sure, as long as you stay away from the other guy's crotchal region. Hit him in the face, wait until his back is turned, involve small children and/or animals, do whatever you need to do, as long as you leave his twig and berries out of the equation.
This does not apply to women. In self defense classes, it is taught that the groin is one of a man's most vulnerable regions and should be exploited if the woman feels that she is in danger. It still seems a little over the line to me, but any man who wants to pick on the fairer sex should probably know that he is risking some sort of pelvic assault. Let this be a warning to those of you that might have been thinking about walking that path.
So unless Ray Allen is a woman, he was wrong here. The league agrees with me, as he has been suspended for tonight's game against the Sixers. I'd rather that the suspension have been served in a game that means something. Since Boston has clinched its playoff position, this is not the case. Allen will sit out of a game that he likely wouldn't have played much of anyway, but at least he'll lose a game check. I suppose this is an acceptable punishment for him going Johnny Cage on someone.
I'm sure Allen, a pretty good guy by most accounts, will speak to the media and express remorse for what he did since his statement after the game ("I'm not going to lie-- I'll always stand up for myself and anyone on this team. It's in my nature. They're not going to just walk all over us. I had to make a stance. It was embarrassing for us to get beat this way-- playing on national TV.") makes it seem like he thought that was the right move. Get in Varejao's face, push him, throw a punch if you feel it necessary, but don't test his testes.
Allen has been punished, Varejao says hes OK, so there's nothing left to do but move on. Hopefully over athletes will take notice and refrain from making any grabs at someone else's family jewels. It's reprehensible behavior that will get you fined, suspended, and you'll have to endure the sideways glances of your peers and the general public.
This is really a lesson that all men should learn. So take the knowledge and share it with all you know: Don't hit anyone below this belt. It's nuts.