On Thursday October 30th, the Minnesota Timberwolves took on the Philadelphia 76ers. After years of high profile rivalry between start centers Karl Anthony Towns and Joel Embiid, the two adversaries broke out into a physical fight resulting in a two game suspension and the immediate ejection of both players. The two opponents have had a history of conflict since their first season in the NBA. After years of aggressive games and snarky comments between the players via social media, it was very apparent to all that there was major friction between Towns and Embiid and that it was only a matter of time before their anger got the best of them. Late into the third quarter of the October game, an aggressive double team from Embiid caused Towns to turn over the ball, which led to the two NBA stars throwing punches and finally giving the fans the action they have been anticipating. After serving their suspension, both players have returned to the court and with the next match up between the 76ers and Timberwolves months away, it gives both opponents a lot of time to cool down and put the feud in their past.
A big question which arises from a sport sociology perspective is the impact of the media on violence in sport. Would this rivalry have gone on as long and intensely as it did without media? Or, was the physical brawl an inevitable part of the sport? If so, how much of it was brought on by the media? There has Changes in sports rules, development in the design of equipment, and even the physical characteristics of modern sport arenas in efforts to reduce violence in sport (Goldstein, 1983). So, if sports leagues are willing to change rules and even equipment to attempt to lower violence in sport, why does the media not see the value in this as well? The media plays such a major role in sport violence, with the above brawl being a prime example. If media portrayed the fight between Embiid and Towns as a disgrace to the sport or even as a restraint on the entertainment of the game, would violence in not only basketball but all sports subside?