Special to Page 2
While most eyes have been turned toward steroids and their consequences, a lesser, though still very damaging, scourge continues to plague sports.
Men continue to hit other men between the legs.
In 2005, Chris Paul reached around Julius Hodge from behind and punched Young Harlem in his unborn. At Virginia Tech this season, Duke's J.J. Redick caught Deron Washington with an elbow to the man parts. Last month, George Mason's Tony Skinn took out a few frustrations on Hofstra's Loren Stokes' jubblies. And Saturday night in Vegas, Zab Judah made his loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr. seem worse by hitting Mayweather with a low blow, which was followed by an overhand right to the back of the noggin.
Acts like these must cease. Now.
In case anyone is unclear about how painful a blow to the testicles can be, consider the potential injuries a crotch shot can cause. WebMD says that, besides blinding pain, a direct hit can cause a testicular rupture, which can cause scrotal bleeding. Surgery may be needed to save the testicle. An injury to the testicles can also cause testicular torsion, a condition caused by a twisted spermatic cord, which can stop blood from reaching the testicles.
For those who prefer layman's terms, Stokes told our Gene Wojciechowski that Skinn's shot through his unseam left him in pain and nauseous for three days. A commentator on my Web site once remarked that taking a shot to the groin makes a man want to vomit, but the pain is too severe to allow him to move enough to heave.
Yikes. Hitting someone in the groin comes with all the disrespect associated with spitting on someone, just with less mess (hopefully) and a lot more discomfort. Tissues won't wipe that kind of pain away.
And yet, even though the trauma caused by getting hit in the crotch is known to be severe, sports leagues continue to treat the act like a minor transgression, a break of the game. Paul and Skinn were both suspended for one game for their deeds. Somehow, Redick's blow to Washington lurked below both the refs' and the ACC's radars. Judah didn't even lose a point for what he did to Mayweather, even though he committed two infractions and obviously slowed the momentum Mayweather had built throughout the fight.
Where's the justice?
Something's wrong with a world where hitting someone in the face merits the same penalty as hitting him in the unborn. How are those acts comparable? What's scarier -- the prospect of standing at midcourt and suddenly being hit in the jaw? Or being on the floor, minding your own business, and having your epicenter rocked by a blow of seismic proportions?
The NBA's penalties for smoking marijuana are less than stringent -- a player must fail three drug tests before being suspended for five games -- but that's capital punishment in comparison to the penalty for a shot to the good stuff: a one-game suspension.
Is a crotch puncher more abhorrent than a stoner? Just imagine seeing your favorite NBA player standing on the corner, boom box on his shoulder blasting Cypress Hill's debut -- their only great album -- with eyes red enough to stop traffic. On the opposite corner stands Kevin Gogan, who once hit Neil Smith in the family jewels with most of his might during the Pro Bowl.
Which side of the street would you prefer to walk on?
That's what I thought.
But for some reason, we continue to treat groin punchers with kid gloves. They are chastised by fans, and rightfully admonished for violating the G Code, but they suffer no real penalties from their leagues. Gogan never should have been allowed near a football field again for what he did to Smith. Judah should have been disqualified and suspended on the spot, despite his claims that his low blow was accidental. (And Don King should be ashamed to say that Mayweather should have been disqualified after his trainer, his uncle Roger, rushed Judah and did what any decent man would do after seeing his nephew catch a bad one to the jubblies.) George Mason coach Jim Larranaga was praised by many for suspending Skinn for the first game of the NCAA Tournament for what he did to Stokes, but did one game really fit the crime?
The punishment scale for these offenses is off kilter. So here's a code that can be applied to any sport to make sure these sorts of things never happen.
• First intentional offense: Suspension for at least 25 percent of the season.
When a man decides to hit someone else between the legs, he exhibits a disturbing indifference to human decency that borders on what can most gently be described as the behavior of a sociopath. Missing a game or two doesn't send the proper message. How about 20 games for pro basketball players, at least 10 games in college hoops, four games for football players and 20 for hockey players? And if a hockey player uses a stick? Life. In prison.
In boxing? Gotta stand still with stars over your head a la "Street Fighter II" and take a Dragon Punch to the chin. Sho-Ryu-Ken!
And if less than 25 percent of a season remains, take it to the house. No more regular season, no postseason, nothing.
Also, mandatory counseling. It's unclear whether being a terrible human being can be cured, but we must give it a try.
• First unintentional offense: Suspension for 10 percent of the season.
Accidents happen. Most of us have accidentally caught a buddy in the huevos playing ball or something. Remember how badly you felt when you did that? Well, you should have. A strong penalty for inadvertent testicular disruptions sends the right message to the kiddies. What's good for the babies is good for both the present and the future.
• Second offense, at least one intentional: Suspension for one full season.
'Tis a bit Draconian, yes. But I'd bet dollars to donuts that folks felt free to let 'em hang when Draco was running things. Clearly, he was doing something right.
• Second offense, both intentional: Suspension for life, and a scarlet letter.
The only thing up for debate is which scarlet letter. B for well, you know? S for "sociopath"? U for "unworthy of membership in society"?
• Third offense: Life.
No appeals necessary. Three accidental shots? Someone should have been more careful. And if forced to consider a career change for a string of mistakes, caution will be guaranteed.
As sports fans, it is our duty to make sure the games we watch reflect our values. While most morals can't be uniformly ascribed to all, crotch punchers are hated by all. They must be treated harshly.
There must be a change. And it must begin immediately.
Bomani Jones is a frequent contributor to Page 2. Tell him how you feel at firstname.lastname@example.org.