Saturday, April 20, 2024

Criminal lack of sportsmanship

As Nichols College’s Nate Tenaglia delivered a successful three-point shot from the corner Tuesday, Fitchburg State University’s Kewan Platt jogged toward him. After the basket sank, Platt lifted his arm and lunged forward to drive his elbow into Tenaglia’s face.

The video is disturbing to watch.

It doesn’t show some kind of gruesome injury; it shows an absolutely unforgivable lack of sportsmanship.

Late in the second half of Tuesday’s Massachusetts State Athletic Conference men’s basketball contest between Fitchburg and Nichols, Fitchburg’s Kewan Platt crossed an ethical line when he delivered a hit on an unsuspecting opponent.

After Tenaglia took the blow and his head subsequently struck the floor, trainers checked him for concussion symptoms. Thankfully, he was cleared to return to the game.

Platt was taken out of the game after the incident, but the incident has now attracted the attention of the Fitchburg State University police. That’s good, because this certainly appeared to be a case of blatant assault.
It is a relief to read the statement by Nichols spokesman Pete Divitio, who said that Tenaglia is OK. The hit was an obvious concussion risk, but the force involved could have led to death in the right circumstance.

The MASCAC vacated the “Player of the Week” award Platt had previously been given by the Division III conference, but the repercussions justifiably run far beyond athletic accolades.

Platt has been suspended indefinitely from the team — in fact, his name no longer appears on the roster on the team’s website — and Fitchburg’s athletics director, Matthew Burke, released a statement that Platt has been “barred from campus, effective immediately.”

On the surface, that seems an excessive punishment for a basketball play, but that’s the thing: what Platt did wasn’t a basketball play.

I grew up watching the NHL and NFL, so I am accustomed to seeing violent hits in athletic competitions. However, Platt’s hit on Tenaglia is unacceptable in any sport at any level.

Contact sports invite a certain level of aggression, but what happened Tuesday was far too much. To intentionally strike an opponent who had no reasonable expectation of being hit, especially with a violent elbow to the face, is simply unacceptable.

In football, players tackle an opponent in an effort to prevent them from scoring. In hockey, players check an opponent in an effort to separate him from the puck. What Platt did served no purpose other than venting his own frustrations.
The only parallel that comes to mind is the antics of former Duke player Grayson Allen, who spent four years in Durham, North Carolina, attracting media scrutiny for his repeated incidents of tripping opponents. While NBA teams were somehow able to look past Allen’s lack of sportsmanship, there is still no room for that kind of behavior in sports.

While Allen certainly showed a lack of sportsmanship on a number of occasions, what Platt did was far worse than anything Allen ever attempted.

Platt is facing a student conduct investigation for the incident, which is why he has been banned from campus until that has been resolved. More concerning for Platt, though, is the fact that the university’s director of public information, Matthew Bruun, confirmed that the university’s police department had begun its review of the hit.

What Platt did when he hit Tenaglia had nothing to do with basketball or any other sport. It was a blatant act of aggression, and a thorough law enforcement review — as well as any criminal charges law enforcement determines appropriate — is absolutely warranted.

Kewan Platt’s athletic career should be over. His hit on Tenaglia was an unforgivable transgression against the principle of good sportsmanship.

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