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The student news site of Pleasant Valley High School

Spartan Shield

The student news site of Pleasant Valley High School

Spartan Shield

The Cost of Expression: Unreasonable Fines in Professional Sports

Professional+sports+leagues+have+recently+imposed+fines+on+players+for+certain+actions+during+the+game+or+in+the+media.
Armaan Bhagwat
Professional sports leagues have recently imposed fines on players for certain actions during the game or in the media.

$16,391 is the amount of money George Pickens—wide receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers—was fined on December 31, 2023. His offense was simply pointing at a Cincinnati Bengals defender while scoring his second touchdown of the game.

Players have recently been fined over similar acts in a multitude of professional sports. Displaying competitiveness and team spirit has led to hefty consequences for the athletes involved in the act. Professional leagues are honing in on restricting certain actions of players, with intentions of protecting the integrity of the game.

Many instances of players taunting opponents with small gestures have led to inordinate fines. The following NFL athletes were fined $10,927 for merely pointing fingers or holding up peace signs on their way to the endzone: Buffalo Bills’ Josh Allen, Miami Dolphins’ Tyreek Hill and Baltimore Ravens’ Odell Beckham Jr.

Taunting fines ultimately stifle players from celebrating during games, causing them to lose appreciation for their respective sports. By fining players for minor offenses, a certain competitiveness is lost in the game.

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This has been exceedingly important in an era where social media and cultural presence is extremely important monetarily, especially after the influence of the post Taylor-Kelce era. Where money and identity is important, it puts into question whether individuals actually play for the win or for the financial success. 

Senior Mason Breen plays varsity football and wrestling, with aspirations of playing at the collegiate level. “When you see a player get fined for performing a celebration or a taunt, you wonder what harm they really caused. I would understand if the reason for the fine was because of an illegal hit in football or unprofessional comments towards fans, but for taunting? I’m confused on why taunting and celebrating leads to a fine,” Breen stated.

Competitiveness in sports is often shown through taunting opponents, in an attempt to set them off their game. Additionally, displaying a sense of competitiveness can boost team morale needed to succeed. Although acts of taunting in sports have been fined significantly in recent years, there are a multitude of ways athletes have been penalized for insignificant actions.

On November 12, 2023, Memphis Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins was fined $25,000 after a loss to the Utah Jazz. On November 16, 2023, Los Angeles Clippers forward Paul George was fined a grand total of $35,000 after a loss to the Denver Nuggets.The common offense in both cases was criticizing the performance of the referees during a press conference.

Many argue there have been multiple instances in which referees’ poor decision-making, whether it be an unjustifiable call or no call at all, impacted the outcome of several games. Instead of these refs being held accountable for their mistakes, players are fined for speaking out to the media about them. 

Professional leagues display hypocrisy in a sense by holding players accountable for simply displaying their opinions over a serious matter. In many cases, mistakes made by referees can result in a loss for a team, potentially costing them a shot at a playoff position. Players’ reactions to these mistakes are justified to the extent that they shouldn’t worry about potential fines for speaking their mind in a censored manner.

Junior Dom Kurtz plays varsity football and baseball. “Athletes grind their whole life to get the little opportunity there is at playing their sport at a professional level. Once they achieve that position, they’re not able to express the slightest bit of emotion without the possibility of being penalized. That doesn’t seem fair to the players,” Kurtz explained. 

Sports culture is created based on the fondness of certain teams, players and organizations, and a large part of that is because of the emotions fans feel watching an event. Emotions on the playing field can be seen as a way of motivating teammates or encouraging the crowd. To penalize players at any level for displaying certain reactions while playing the game ultimately erases the love athletes and fans have for the sport.

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About the Contributor
Armaan Bhagwat, Photo Manager
Armaan Bhagwat is a senior at Pleasant Valley high school and is the Spartan Shield’s Photo Manager. He’s interested in biomedical sciences and anatomy, and he wants to major in biomedical engineering/sciences with an aspiration of becoming an ophthalmologist. At PV, Armaan is a captain of the varsity tennis team, leader of the Future Physicians of America club, and a member of the Wind Symphony band. Outside of school, Armaan finds enjoyment in playing tennis, golfing with friends, and playing piano. Armaan’s favorite movie is The Dark Knight, and his favorite musical artist is Drake. He is excited to work for the Spartan Shield this year!  
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    Suleman ChaudhryFeb 19, 2024 at 10:17 pm

    Armaan, I agree with what you are saying. Specfically, I personally find it funny how the fines keep going higher and higher, yet the tolerances for unacceptable behaviour go lower and lower. THere is a reason people say the NBA has become soft. It is funny to watch what it takes for someone to get a tech nowadays vs what it did back then.

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