Sunday, October 4, 2009

Justin Dunk Point/Counterpoint

Hello out there, we're on the (interwebs)*... again. ... Finally.

At any rate, I'm not going to talk about the start of the NHL season as planned, because it will only make me sad. I was a sad panda last night.

As you may have heard, in the world of interuniversity sport, Guelph quarterback Justin Dunk was suspended for yelling "FUCK WESTERN!" at the camera during Guelph's homecoming game. This game was not only being broadcasted on TV Cogeco or something, it was on The Score. Even though the suspension has now happened, Jake and I wrote a Point/Counterpoint in the Journal arguing the legitimacy of the suspension. It's posted below:

Should Dunk have been suspended?

Amrit Ahluwalia

During The Score television network’s Sept. 26 broadcast of the football game between the Guelph Gryphons and the Western Mustangs, Gryphons quarterback Justin Dunk broke for a 22-yard touchdown rush, ran to one of The Score’s cameras and yelled “Fuck Western!” to the country.

There hasn’t been OUA action on the incident, but Guelph suspended Dunk for their next regular-season game against the Waterloo Warriors. This was absolutely the right course of action.

It may have been what Dunk was thinking, or even what the Guelph Homecoming crowd was screaming, but it was inappropriate for the face of the team and the school to scream a profanity into the camera.

He almost certainly caused embarrassment to his school and probably a fair amount of vitriol to watching Western fans, and Guelph couldn’t appear to idly stand by. It may seem harmless at the time, but he effectively insulted Western’s entire student body, its wealth of alumnus and everyone affiliated with the school—especially its athletics program.

I think what players say on the field, only in view and not in earshot of the cameras, is their own business. But when they run into a camera they clearly intend the world to hear their words. Had Dunk done the same thing in any televised professional sporting event he would have faced fines or suspensions. Soccer’s Didier Drogba received a four-game suspension from UEFA after swearing at a TV camera on May 6 after Chelsea lost to Barcelona in the Champion’s League semifinal.

In smaller towns like Kingston and Guelph, where the highest level of local sport is OHL hockey, university sport takes on a local flavour. The players bear that responsibility on top of the demands of the student-athlete.

Dunk is the face of the Gryphons. He was in their commercial on The Score, and he must be expected to set an example for youth.

I think Dunk is in a position to receive at least a two-game joint suspension from the school and the league, given he sullied the name of OUA football and his own alma mater in one fell swoop. He can count himself lucky not to be facing greater punishment.

Football’s a passionate sport, and people are always passionate on the field, regardless of the sport. But 90 people suited up to play in that game and 89 of them avoided swearing on national TV.

Jake Edmiston

Guelph’s quarterback Justin Dunk was suspended by Guelph athletics this week for using obscenity in front of a camera from The Score. He won’t play in tomorrow’s game against the Waterloo Warriors.

Dunk forgot to cleverly manipulate his words. The phrase he used on Saturday was two letters away from the “Wuck Festern” slogan printed on hundreds of chests at Queen’s Homecoming football game against Western last year.

Dunk’s actions may have been offside, but they were part of a certain culture surrounding interuniversity football games. Chants from student sections aren’t always conducive to family television. Neither are candid end-zone celebrations. That’s why seven-second delays are handy, but The Score wasn’t operating with one. If last Saturday at Richardson Stadium had been televised, a crowd roar of “York loves dick” may have been broadcasted nationwide.

Sports induce emotional responses in athletes and fans. Dunk got emotional, but one could cut him slack considering he spends his afternoons avoiding 300-pound men with a penchant for roughness. If one player is going to receive a venomous response for using football-game vernacular then maybe it’s a good idea for those watching at home to be seven seconds behind, to protect certain ears and certain reputations. If Guelph suspended Dunk, they should be frequently escorting fans and athletes out of Alumni Stadium for a nice soap-gargle.

Dunk exposed it; he didn’t start it. He shouldn’t have said it, but you wouldn’t be pressed to find more offensive material in a locker room. Rivalry is entwined in competitive sport and the colourful outbursts it creates are part of the entanglement. If it’s an issue, make it an issue with every player and fan. If it shouldn’t be on television, use a panic button to blank out words and sterilize the sexual euphemisms.

Guelph Athletics could have acknowledged the trend of vulgarity as a part of the culture; they could have made the trend an issue. Instead, they’re making Dunk the issue. His actions now appear to be an isolated incident being dealt with internally. That’s effortless for the university and difficult for Dunk, who has to put his dignity in the swear-jar and watch from the sidelines next week.

Dunk graduates this year. Instead of focusing on football, he’s probably hoping the people reading his resumé don’t also read the CIS blog or national newspapers.

* Best video footage to the Hockey Song ever. Ever.


Andrew Bucholtz said...

I'm with Jake on this one. There's plenty of room for language on the field (just not directed at the refs) in sports. Amrit, you've got a point that it makes it much worse that he sought out the camera, but really, it's a university football broadcast; I doubt most of the people watching are too shocked by an F-bomb. Dunk probably should have been reprimanded, but a suspension is going too far for what's really a very minor offence.

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