Emotion, like people, sometimes are what they seem on the surface. TCKs, cross-cultural and multi-racial people —along with all other in-betweens — understand this well. In this series, we’ll show you how sports mirror life in uncovering emotions often hidden, eliciting reactions that make sense when you consider their origins…
People and Emotions
When it comes to entertainment, and sports in particular, some people look to escape their own emotions. Those people look to be taken out of their own lives and placed in a world that is free from trouble. However, emotions play a bigger role in the sporting world than people might believe. Take the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals rivalry that has sparked controversy since the 2016 season. The hits are hard and dangerous and tempers run high. This comes from the sense of family that these players feel and when a family member is injured, the team steps up to defend them.
Like many people, family is held deep within their hearts. The need to protect their family members is at the forefront of their thoughts, and this emotional connection mirrors the real world.
Emotions Between the Steelers and Bengals
According to Coley Harvey, an ESPN Staff Writer, the rivalry began when Vontaze Burfict celebrated a tackle that ended the season for Steelers’ running back Le’Veon Bell. The article showed that this was the second time that Bell was sidelined for a season due to a Bengal. Emotion felt by Bell’s teammates was the spark that began what some might categorize as a massacre on the football field.
After the game in week eight of 2016, players between the two teams exchanged tweets to one another that were seen as threatening. Harvey described the situation in the article.
“Some of the most vicious rhetoric targeted Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict, the man who has spent the past four seasons as Public Enemy No. 1 in the Steel City. Burfict did himself no favors when, during the Bengals’ week eight victory, he celebrated a tackle of Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell, who suffered a season-ending knee injury on the play.”
The fact that players began threatening each other on social media shows that emotions run high when it comes to players being injured, especially for those who are on the receiving end of the injury. The Steelers’ players felt that the injury to Bell was meant for all of them, and the hidden threat wasn’t taken lightly.
When Things Get Heated
Fast Forward to the 2017 season. According to David Steele with Sportingnews.com there has been $296,566.50 dished out in fines. Fines are given to players who break the safety rules put in place by the NFL.
According to Alex Kirshner with Sportsnation.com, week 13 of the 2017 season is when emotions took over on the playing field. Ryan Shazier, a linebacker for the Steelers, was carted off the field with a neck injury. Soon after that, Joe Mixon, a running back for the Bengals, received a concussion due to a big hit by the Steelers defense. So far, it sounds like a game of football, but Juju Smith-Schuster took the violence to another level.
Smith-Schuster went to block Burfict for a fellow teammate, but he did it in a malicious way. He launched his helmet into Burfict’s. The result ended with Burfict being carted off the field just like Shazier. The Bengals players didn’t take too kindly to the hit, or the taunt that came along with it according to Kirshner. Not long after the block, Antonio Brown was targeted by George Iloka, a defensive back for the Bengals. For those that don’t watch the game, targeting is when a defensive player hits the offensive player in the helmet with their helmet. While the hit to the head didn’t result in an injury, it was still meant as a way of payback.
Like many people, the players saw the vicious hits as an attack on their family. They allowed their emotions to come to the forefront of their minds and decided to do something about it. While it ended in many players being injured, people who don’t play sports might react the same way.
More to Come
The following article will continue the discussion on emotions in sports. The New York Yankees, and the Boston Red Sox will demonstrate how emotions can cause a rivalry among players and their fans in Emotions: The Hidden Diversity of Sports: New York Yankees vs Boston Red Sox.