Penalties costly to competition

Officials in the sporting realm have been dishing out penalties left and right. Some for improper actions, commentaries and rules violations.

Competitors and team owners have been fined monetarily and points, but the most volatile issue is the level of competition. Athletes must be allowed to compete at a high level to insure the quality of the sport. All forms of athletic endeavors have rules and issues to govern their sport, but to me penalties are detrimental to the sport.

One issue facing NASCAR drivers and teams is the inability to comment on or alter the new “Generation 6” car.

This vehicle is sacred due to the countless efforts put forth by automakers and the auto racing’s governing body. Teams have been trying to increase the level of competition by finding new ways to make the “Gen 6” racer. Drivers have voiced their issues with the car and officials have found their comments violate NASCAR’s rule book.

Teams have found ways to increase handling and speed to make fans and sponsors happy with the decision to switch car designs. The new designs mock the cars being driven on today’s highways.

The amount issued to some of the small teams has forced them to shut their doors and put several crew members on the unemployment line. The big-time sponsored teams can afford most financial penalties out of petty cash. Points taken away from team owners and drivers hurt their ability to win a driving championship, but diminish the product being viewed by millions of faithful race fans each week.

I propose that NASCAR should investigate problems viable to breaking of the rules and park the car, driver and team for a set amount of races. One point most fans fail to know is that any financial penalty issued by officials is not paid to the sanctioning body, but placed in a fund to help out retired NASCAR drivers.

The world of golf has been facing tough times with new developments in equipment and rules to use these new apparatus. Professional golfers are governed by a rule book. So I offer this tidbit of discussion. A golfer not penalized for a rules violation due to his status in the sport is setting a standard that will hinder the level of competition.

Tiger Woods was issued a numerical penalty at the Masters for violating a rule (a viewer called Augusta and made officials aware of the issue before the PGA Tour even caught the violation) but was allowed to finish the tournament and collect a paycheck. Woods has increased the level of competition and sponsorship dollars since joining the tour in 1997, but he should face the same scrutiny as any other golfer on the course.

My final analysis is dealing with flagrant fouls in the NHL and NBA. Some players are called for these violations and some are merely told to be more cautious.

A player in the NHL suffered a season-ending injury because another player was blocked during a shot on goal. This violation is known as high-sticking. The player suffered a concussion, damaged eye socket and possible cornea issues. The violator was sent to the penalty box, but was permitted to finish the game. The financial penalty was issued to the team not the player. The team did not require any other action be taken.

Kobe Bryant suffered a season-ending injury during a game. The player causing the injury was not forced to leave the game, issued a monetary fine or asked to sit out any games.

Officials must learn to govern all actions in one manner to equal the playing field for competitors.

Too much favoritism is being played out for certain teams, players and sports to bow to the wishes of the almighty dollar.

Contact Eddie Thomas at