Punishment for Oregon football star was harsh but necessary

Maybe this is the start of tough punishments that make it clear abhorrent behavior will not be tolerated.

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It's been about a week since the nation watched on ESPN as University of Oregon football player LeGarrette Blount punched Boise State player Byron Hout and then had to be restrained by an Oregon coach and security guards as he tried to get into the stands to presumably attack Boise State fans.

Yet, the incident -- and Blount's subsequent season-long suspension -- are still being talked about.

Much of the talk and debate centers on whether the suspension, which effectively ended Blount's college football career since he is a senior, is too harsh.

Ironically, in the hours following the incident, sports radio and TV talk shows were abuzz. Almost every college football analyst, caller or e-mailer demanded Blount be swiftly and severely punished. Folks were outraged -- and understandably so. Blount was out of control. Oregon officials were embarrassed.

So, Oregons' new coach, Chip Kelly, and top Oregon officials made the tough call and ended the season for Blount, who was the team's best running back. Oregon's season might well be going down the drain with Blount's college football career.

Yet, as time passed some started to question the punishment wondering if it was too harsh. Was Blount's season ripped from him simply because it was the first of the new college season and a primetime broadcast? Did Kelly (and other Oregon officials) opt for the season-ending suspension for political reasons.

Probably, but that doesn't make it the wrong decision. Perhaps our collective gut reaction -- swift and harsh -- is right.

When Blount's college football career was ended most people felt sorry for him. It's human nature. We don't like seeing people suffer even when they brought the punishment on themselves. We want to give people second, third and fourth chances.

It happens in sports all the time. Players violate rules on drug use, for example, and are given lifetime bans only to have that ban lifted a year or two down the road.

And perhaps that is why many now feel that Blount's punishment is so harsh -- others get off pretty easy.

But are we doing people a favor by letting rule breakers off easy?

The circumstances essentially forced Oregon into this harsh punishment. Maybe this is the start of tough punishments that make it clear abhorrent behavior will not be tolerated

While Blount can no longer play in games, he will be allowed to keep his scholarship and practice with the team in the hopes of being drafted to play in the NFL.

Still, losing this season is a very serious consequences. Maybe Blount and other top athletes can learn from the punishment and understand colleges mean it when they say abhorrent behavior will truly not be tolerated.

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