Why Do Basketball Players Slap Fight Like Schoolchildren?

Let the slapping and pushing commence!
Let the slapping and pushing commence!

Whenever I read Deadspin or Yahoo! Sports (the latter is much more rare than the former) there is almost always a new post on fighting in, at, or around a professional sports game.  It’s clear that our culture has a serious infatuation with fisticuffs even if I don’t love it, but the real question has to be why is the action in the stands, on the ice, and inside the box always SO MUCH better than a basketball fight?

The guys in the NBA are some of the best athletes in the world, right?  And many have more than enough tattoos for me to believe that they are tough.  So what’s with all the slap boxing?  I’d rather not see the fighting at all, but honestly, if you’re going to fight, then fight.  But this slap happy crappiness has simply got to go.

Now it makes sense that lacrosse and hockey fights would be much better than basketball fights, because you can actually fight in those leagues and the rules are crafted in a way that it’s not going to an immediate suspension.  So maybe the basketball guys just aren’t training correctly and are unprepared to throw down?  Or, maybe they just aren’t quite as in to it?  I mean, lacrosse and hockey fights usually start after quite a few cheap shots and missed calls, or something like that.  But basketball fights can start because someone stepped on your foot, or played defense too hard.

Basically, the hockey and lacrosse guys are actually fighting.  The Bballers, on the other hand, just feel disrespected, so they begin slapping people.  It actually makes a lot more sense now.  I still can’t explain why fan fights look more like real fights than basketball fights, but maybe it’s because the fans care more than the players in the NBA do… totally possible.

Don’t believe me?  Here are some PRIME examples of the overall sissy-tastic nature of basketball fights.  Watch ’em and then tell me you don’t have less respect for every basketball player you know.  In the late 90s I believe the term was “fronting”…

THIS is a legitimate swing? Come on NBA. Soft.

Oh, and it’s not just here in the States!  Check out this brawl from China between the Chinese National Team and Georgetown.  It starts with some slapping, then moves on to a group of guys kicking a guy on the floor (classy), lots more slapping and pushing, and then a Chinese player picks up a chair and doesn’t throw it.  WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE?  Is every basketball player in the world a little cry baby capable of throwing a temper tantrum because they got fouled a little harder than usual?  Either throw down like a man, or play baseball.  This is getting ridiculous.

It’s now official, and I never thought I’d say it, but SOCCER players are tougher than basketball players.  I’ll take ninja kicks with cleats on as legitimate over some light slapping and pushing any day.

And then of course there’s lacrosse… where the men are still men.  I still think fighting in lacrosse is pretty stupid, but at least its real fighting and we call it like we see it.  Two men step up, agree to fight, and settle their differences.  Plus I’m pretty confident the Junior A guys in this video could take 99% of NBA players in a fight.


  1. C’mon Connor, you’re better than this. The NBA cracked down on fighting/punching after Kermit Washington almost killed Rudy Tomjanovich (#6 in this video 
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sBNNAvyspGs). Or maybe you think it’s manly to do this (

    There’s is nothing manly about fighting in sports. I’m not impressed by some goon who gets paid to beat on other players any more so than I am impressed by someone who beats someone up and robs them. You know what’s real manly? Watching a guy take a cheap shot at you or a teammate, letting the refs call it and taking advantage of it by scoring on a power play/man up/free throws.

    • Lacrosse and Hockey will always have fighting in it. Its part of the sport and will always be as much as people disagree sometimes. For example, If your box lacrosse coach grabs you and says your fighting X, you go fight X otherwise you have the potential of not playing the rest of the game and other future games. Thats just how the sport works. Same goes in hockey. Heck, if somebody offered me money to be the instigator in a sport, i would do it.

      • The argument that something is the way it is because it is part of the sport is the intellectual equivalent of arguing that laws that Jim Crow laws shouldn’t be taken off the books just because that’s the way American culture had been for hundreds of years. Just because something currently exists, or previously existed, does not mean that it should continue to exist. Otherwise, change for the better would never occur.

    • Thats rediculous. I know at least in hockey it’s about protecting your teammates by sending a message to the other team. Don’t get me wrong I’m all for getting rid of the goons that are designated fighters but when a bigger player takes an unnoticed cheap shot at a smaller skilled player it lowers the quality of play and someone has to lay down the law that you have to play fair.
      It’s similar to the difference between English and Spanish soccer. In English culture while cheap shots are still taken they don’t think they can get away with it but Spanish and the majority of other European countries believe that it’s fair if the ref doesn’t see creating the whole diving culture.
      Also you missed the point of the article he is in now way advocating fighting just acknowledging that it happens and when it does you shouldn’t slap…

    • Like I said NUMEROUS times in the post, I don’t like fighting or think it’s needed.  But if it’s going to happen, there is a right and wrong way for it to go down.  Fighting isn’t legal in a sport like bball because it’s not required at all.  I think you can make the same argument for lax and hockey but that’s a topic for another day (and past posts).  The point being, if they’re going to fight anyway and get huge fines, why are they just slapping each other?

      The NBA players, and basketball players in general, fight over nothing, and then do so in a half-assed manner.

      You’re right, it’s not manly to fight in sports, but the lax and hockey stuff is a step above the basketball and soccer nonsense.

      Also the post was clearly a little tongue in cheek.  You can tell this is true because I said soccer players were good fighters.  Dead giveaway.

      • Alright, forgive me for taking it too seriously.

        You could make the case that fighting would make sense in basketball for the same reason it makes sense in hockey and lax. What that really shows though is that fighting isn’t necessary in those other sports as basketball exists largely without it.

  2. I’ve been a soccer player my whole life. First of all, most of the players aren’t big guys like you see in the NBA or NFL. They are fit, but not really all tough. They often don’t get in fights because it is much easier to injure the other player while playing. If you hit him or get in a fight, you could be suspended for a while. If you foul him well enough, you may only miss one game, but send to other guy out for a whole season.

  3. Swank Lax just hates Box… Box lax barely gets any fans my friend, ladies go to watch the hard hits and the fights, guys go for the ladies and for the fights. You want lacrosse to stay a growing sport, fights are needed. People like getting their blood pumpen from a good fight.

    • I don’t hate box lacrosse. I do hate the NLL, but that’s mostly for reasons not related to the on the field product. As for fighting…meh. Not impressed. I’d rather grow a sport that doesn’t involve fighting. As for the girls…well, this field player does just fine for himself haha.