[SPORTS VIEW]A sucker punch? Have ye no shame?

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[SPORTS VIEW]A sucker punch? Have ye no shame?

Though I used a Middle Ages analogy in my last column, indulge me while I employ one again. In times of yore, combat was the ultimate sporting event. During peacetime, knights would test their battle skills in tournaments. The bouts often turned bloody. But a code of honor was usually in effect to ensure the competitions were civil.

That type of virtue was even displayed on the battlefield. During the Third Crusade (1187-1192), a battle was fought at Jaffa between the forces of Saladin, the ruler of the Muslim world, and Richard the Lion Heart, King of England. Richard had been surprised by Saladin's forces, and as the battle raged the king was unhorsed when his steed was felled by arrows. Saladin, observing the now vulnerable Richard, turned to his brother and said, "Go take these two horses and lead them to him; a great man such as he should not be on foot."

Two Arabian horses were sent straight to the king so that he could continue fighting at eye-level with his foe.

Now I call that class. Unfortunately, we don't see much of that in today's sports.

Saladin would have turned in his grave had he seen what happened in the third quarter of a basketball game last week between the Dongyang Orions and the SK Bigs.

The Orions guard Kim Seung-hyun had just missed a difficult shot from close in, and the ball bounced off the rim. Bigs guard Choi Myung-do was there for the rebound but Kim followed his shot and grabbed it first. Kim had the inside position, with Choi behind him readying to block a shot. Kim, while holding the ball, tried to muscle some room to shoot, and threw a sharp elbow back at Choi, nailing him in the chest. Choi reacted with a punch from behind, which Kim never saw coming, that landed on Kim's right eye. Kim fell like a chopped tree. Luckily, he wasn't permanently injured.

It was the first fight of the season, however brief and contained. I expect the punch to be talked about for a long time because I have never seen such a Popeye shot -- connect, knockdown -- except in a boxing match. After watching the incident a few times on replay I reached the following conclusions.

Something should be done about players who flagrantly lash out when fighting for the ball. I have seen it so many times in other sports, especially in soccer. Also, a harsher penalty should be assessed in situations in which a player tries to sneak in a cheap shot while the referee isn't looking.

And if you are going to try to whack the stuffing out of your opponent, be a man and square up to him first. A knockout punch from behind won't get you any respect.

League officials responded to the recent scuffle with fines and suspensions, Choi for three games and 5 million won ($4,000) and Kim for one game and 1 million won.

Although the players and teams involved probably think the punishments heavy, to me they are mere slaps. The league needs to take a much tougher stance on issues like this. Throwing a punch to the head is very dangerous, and the outcome could have been much worse.

by Brian Lee

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