The Overwatch League’s half-season suspension of SADO for boosting has captured the attention of fans recently and we wanted to look at that suspension in the context of suspensions in other pro sports leagues in the United States. Some fans think the suspension is too harsh. Other fans think it’s not enough, that SADO should not be allowed to participate in the League and that the League tarnishes itself for allowing him to play. While I don’t have a strong stance on the issue, I think that exploring some other suspensions in other major sports league is a compelling thought exercise.
Overwatch League – SADO
Per Blizzard’s statement, SADO was suspended for conduct that is contrary to the values of the Overwatch League and in violation of the Blizzard End User License Agreement. No laws were violated, but boosting is considered a very serious offense in the competitive gaming scene. There is some context for why SADO chose to pursue this activity, but there still is a lot we don’t know. What we do know is that Blizzard feels that this violation warrants SADO missing the pre-season, and the first half of the inaugural season of the League.
Major League Baseball – Johnny Cueto
In August, 2010 Johnny Cueto was suspended seven games (4% of the season) by Major League Baseball for “Violent and Aggressive Actions.” These actions took place during a bench-clearing brawl where Cueto used his cleates to stomp on two other players. One of those players, Jason LaRue suffered a career ending concussion from Cueto stomping on his head. Cueto assaulted two other players, injuring one so badly he had to retire and was suspended for just over a week.
National Football League – Josh Brent
In December, 2012 Josh Brent flipped his car on the highway while driving intoxicated, killing his passenger and teammate, Jerry Brown. Brent was convicted of Intoxicated Manslaughter and served time in prison. The NFL suspended Brent for 10 games (62.5% of the season) when he returned. Brent killed a teammate, while driving drunk and was suspended for a little over half of an NFL season. That said, Brent did serve time in prison, so perhaps that impacted the NFL’s decision.
National Basketball Association – Carmelo Anthony
In December of 2006 there was a brawl between the New York Knicks and the Denver Nuggets. Anthony punched Mardy Collins, the instigating player in the face, knocking him to the ground. Anthony’s part was deemed the most severe, and he was suspended for 15 games (18% of the season). Anthony did not start the fight, but he certainly was the worst offender, punching another player in the face and was suspended for about a fifth of the season.
I’m not here to say that Blizzard is too harsh, or that some of the other sports leagues are perhaps too lenient. There is certainly a big gap between violating a games terms of service and assaulting, or killing someone. I think the main thing to keep in mind is that all situations like this are very complicated, so whether you think the suspension was too harsh, or not hard enough, there are probably a ton of information that we don’t know.