After Victor Ortiz hit Floyd Mayweather with his best shot of the night, a seemingly intentional head butt, Mayweather decided to ignore the unwritten rule in boxing that you don’t strike your opponent when he’s trying to touch gloves. Instead, Mayweather clocked Ortiz twice, and hastened his inevitable victory. It was a brazen blow against sportsmanship, and unwritten rules in general. Sports is filled with unwritten rules, but maybe it’s time they’re written into the rule book, or eliminated entirely.
Baseball may have more unwritten rules than written ones; one being you’re not supposed to steal bases on a team when you’re blowing out. This rule never made sense to me. Homerun hitters feast on the opposing teams mop-up pitchers, so why not the speedsters? In a 162 game war of attrition, the more runs you score, the less you have to use your good relief pitchers, and the better chance you have to win tomorrow. If your catcher can’t throw them out, maybe you need a new catcher.
Airing the ball out when you’re up big in football is considered to be unsportsmanlike. This can be subjective, but think up by more than 3 touchdowns. Breaking a division rivals will with a 60 yard bomb is one thing, but padding your stats on a cellar dweller is quite another. There’s too much risk for injuring in the NFL, and besides being unsportsmanlike, risking your player’s health for some guys fantasy team is plain stupid.
Soccer is particularly confusing. Players routinely fake injuries in order to get penalty picks, so much so that you can actually get a yellow card for doing it. However, if a player goes down with a real injury on the field, the other team is expected to kick the ball out of bounds rather than take advantage of the opportunity. This is a great system of self policing but it only works when…
What Mayweather did was the equivalent of the kid in touch football who fakes a touchback and then runs the ball back for a touchdown when the other team isn’t paying attention. Only what Mayweather did is worse. Imagine Reggie Bush pulling that shit on a group of Pop Warner kids, with the crowd paying 55 bucks a pop to see it.
Regardless of the logic behind them, unwritten rules are supposed to help enforce the integrity of the sport; this is not the era of integrity. Hell, everyone’s favorite sportsman, Derek Jeter, faked getting hit by a pitch last season so he could get a walk, and he was mostly lauded for his “veteran guile.” It’s time to make any unwritten rule that is integral to the sport a written rule, and respect athletes decision to ignore the rest. So I say steal that extra base, throw that extra touchdown, and as Mayweather said after the fight: “Keep yourself protected at all times.”