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Intent

I find myself, as per usual, at odds with most of the general public when it comes to suspensions. I realize this happens time and time again, because my philosophy always lies in intent, and what said suspension accomplishes.

Last evening - this was a hockey game, but could be football, or any other contact sport - a Capitals defensemen leveled a check at another player, which - because the puck was nowhere near the player - was interference. The other player had no idea the hit was coming, and was concussed. It was scary, because injuries like that can hurt a career, or end one, and the kid is only 21.

The offender said he thought they were both making a play on the puck, and - like D men are taught - you take the body. The offender clearly screwed up, but there's no real intent - he'd have to be an idiot to intend to do that in a 0-0 game, giving a powerful team a power play, and maybe costing his team the game. In addition, if the hurt player did look up and brace, this is a run-of-the-mill interference call. It looks like a hockey play gone bad.

The Caps player will likely get games.

In the same series, a player (with full intent) kneed another player. The offended player was not hurt - but could've been severely - so he got a small fine and no games. If the offended player was out for the series, things might've been different, even though it should've been penalized with games in the first place.

This is nothing new for the NHL (or NFL for that matter), which could make racing look consistent with suspensions. They often let players off with little who clearly intend to do harm. Recently a media darling who plays for Chicago swung his stick like a weapon at a players head, striking him, and only received six games.

In racing, commissions act very similarly and sometimes it's tough to digest.

Case A - A horse appears to have a sore belly on Wednesday. A trainer calls the vet and the vet says to give him a little bit of "X" paste. Trainer calls the next day and says it was a false alarm, the horse is fine. He says the horse is in to go Sunday, and they want to race him, but wants to ensure there was nothing in that paste that could test, because if so, he'll scratch the horse. The vet says no, it's fine. The trainer calls the commission vet to double check and the commission vet says they're fine. The horse races, is tested, and tests with .00145 trillionth of a gram of Class II of something which has minimum sentencing in most places. The vets all missed it.

The commission gives the trainer 180 days. Class II's are bad.

Case B - Trainer knowingly milkshakes a horse with the intent of stopping lactic acid build up late in the race, and to cheat his fellow competitors. This time he gives a little too much a little too close and the mmol's are 39. Trainer is caught, and it's his 3rd time.

The commission gives the trainer 30 days. In some places he might get 60.  It's not a Class II, it's a milkshake.

Penalizing the first case does virtually nothing. What did the trainer do wrong? He followed every protocol with every intention of racing his horse clean. "Be more careful" is the message, but how can he be more careful? Giving him a fine to think about it is warranted, but 6 or 9 months? You can't correct behavior which is not correctable.

In the second case you are, in effect, condoning a stick to the head, or a knee to an unsuspecting hockey opponent. Sure, cheat, we'll gavel it down to something, it's not a Class I or II. No worries. In Case 2, you can correct the correctable - "if you intend to pull one over on us, you're done." - but time and time again they are unwilling to do so.

I do not know why this industry does not come down hard on intent, or the constant screw ups from bad stable management. If they do, they'll only be dealing with rare, unintended mistakes by primarily good people.  Rare mistakes from good people with good intentions are easy to deal with.

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