SI Vault
Edited by Jerry Kirshenbaum
February 15, 1982
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February 15, 1982


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A strong argument can be offered that a substantial term of incarceration imposed on this defendant will be recalled in the future by another college athlete who may be tempted to compromise his performance.

—U.S. District Judge Henry Bramwell, in sentencing former Boston College basketball player Rick Kuhn to 10 years in prison for his part in a point-shaving scheme during the 1978-79 season.

They wanted to make an example, and I was the example.

—Los Angeles Kings Coach Don Perry, after receiving a six-game suspension from NHL President John Ziegler for ordering an L.A. player, Paul Mulvey, to leave the bench to fight during a game.

As studies in deterrence, the actions taken last week in a Brooklyn courtroom and the offices of the National Hockey League offered a sharp contrast. The 10-year jail term that Bramwell imposed on Kuhn was unexpectedly harsh, evoking sympathy for Kuhn from, among others, St. John's Coach Lou Carnesecca, who said, "A murderer will get that kind of sentence." But Carnesecca also predicted that the punishment meted out to Kuhn (who will be eligible for parole in 3� years) will have the intended effect of discouraging other college athletes from following in his footsteps. Kuhn was convicted on Nov. 23 of charges that he shaved points at the behest of gamblers and sought to induce his teammates to do the same. "I'm sure this will make a big impression on today's basketball players," Carnesecca said.

In Perry's case, it was harder to assess the likely efficacy of the penalty because it was impossible to tell exactly what "example" Ziegler was trying to set. In ordering Mulvey to fight. Perry was merely doing what comes naturally in the NHL. which tacitly approves fighting in the interest of selling tickets. To be sure, Ziegler and other NHL officials insist that fighting is condoned only as an essential outlet for "frustration," implying that such fighting occurs spontaneously, but that's sheer nonsense. Even a boxer taking a beating in the ring, one of the most frustrating experiences in sport, must restrain the impulse to vent his frustration by circumventing the rules—by, say, kicking his foe or wrestling him to the ground. It took a rare act of rebellion—a refusal by Mulvey to obey Perry's command to "goon it up," as Mulvey put it—to expose the NHL's hypocrisy on the subject of fighting, and it was out of embarrassment over this exposure that Ziegler suspended Perry. That punishment was a public relations gesture just as contrived as the premeditated brawling that reduces a rough, but also a swift and elegant, game to the level of Roller Derby.

The sentencing of Kuhn and the suspension of Perry both deal with dishonesty in sport. There the similarity ends. Bramwell's action was calculated to end the dishonesty in question; Ziegler's perpetuated it.

Chicago sports fans have been abuzz in recent weeks over goings-on involving the Bears. Cubs and White Sox, who have, respectively, hired a new coach and manager ( Mike Ditka and Dallas Green) and acquired several key new players. The three teams have generated so much seemingly positive news that Chicago Tribune columnist Steve Daley felt compelled the other day to put their activities in proper perspective. He wrote. "Face it: Chicago doesn't have an off-season. No one loses interest in football, baseball or basketball until the teams start playing games."


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