Dress it any way you want but you can't disguise the fact that the punishment seldom ever fits the crime in the kangaroo courts of sport.

In the past few weeks there have been a spate of indiscretions in the sporting cauldron that has left fans, albeit some one-eyed ones, bewildered.

Yes, they were all guilty as charged. Point out other infringements all you want but it doesn't detract from the fact that those who were collared were culpable and rightly made an example of in any code where gamesmanship has become a sport in its own right.

The gravity of their myopic actions, juxtaposed with the result of a game, also do not become mitigating factors on how severe their punishment should or shouldn't be.


The reality is athletes see punishment as the inevitable consequence of taking risks. For that matter, take the frills off gamesmanship and it starts looking more and more like cheating.

It never ceases to amuse me when people take the "shock, horror, probe" stance when the proverbial hits the fan.

The case of Stars wing defence Fa'amu Ioane comes to mind when she was marched off the court during the final quarter in her side's round two ANZ Premiership netball match against the Mystics last weekend.

The disbelief doesn't stem so much from Ioane's ejection as it does from the fact that it took more than a decade, if not in the history of netball, for an official to act on blatant disregard for rules in the domestic league before that.

Officials should be commended for sending off the likes of Mystics midcourter Fa'amu Ioane (centre) in starting to clean up the whistle-blowing mess taking hold of netball. Photo/NZME
Officials should be commended for sending off the likes of Mystics midcourter Fa'amu Ioane (centre) in starting to clean up the whistle-blowing mess taking hold of netball. Photo/NZME

Is the midcourter a scapegoat? I believe so but then anyone in that position will have been labelled that.

Sadly for netball, especially in New Zealand, more such interventions are urgently needed to resuscitate it as a credible code riddled with whistle blowing if it will counter the robust growth of basketball and volleyball at school age.

Netball's rules of engagement and how officials interpret them make it a frustrating spectacle.

Blaming umpires is definitely the wrong path. If anything, the officials should be commended for having the gumption to clean up the mess that has gone unchecked for so long.

Perhaps the most glaring example of disciplinary fatigue surfaced in the 2017-18 A-League grand final this month.

Newcastle Jets striker Roy O'Donovan should be vying for the "Drongo of the Season Award" with Wellington Phoenix defender Marco Rossi for his squirrel grip on Jets winger Justin Hoffman in January.

In a reckless challenge, O'Donovan collected Melbourne Victory goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas in the head in the dying minutes with a karate-style kick.

The 32-year-old Irishman copped a 10-match ban, reportedly touted as the second longest ban in A-League history but that's just a red herring for someone who pleaded his case via video link, claiming his vision was blurred after copping a stray elbow from Victory's Besart Berisha earlier during the match.

Seriously? O'Donovan said he didn't realise he had kicked Thomas in the head until he approached him to apologise after the match.

This from a bloke who was slapped an eight-week ban in the 2015-16 A-League season for an off-the-ball headbutt on former Phoenix defender Manny Muscat.

O'Donovan had served a two-match ban in March this year after a video referee caught him striking Sydney FC's Jordy Buijs in the face.

The question one has to ask the disciplinary panel is why O'Donovan, a recidivist, is allowed to play in the A-League at all?

Rugby brings its own share of despair and frustrations with its recent rash of citings.

Fans waded into a debate over Brumbies player Chance Peni's high, swinging arm on Crusaders winger Israel Dagg early this month.

But how does Peni's five-week ban stack up against All Blacks prop Owen Franks' two-match one for striking Blues opponent James Parsons.

More significantly, does it have something to do with his availability for New Zealand's first test against France on June 9.

It's pointless asking Blues coach Tana Umaga why Franks, whose blatant acts of thuggery can be traced back to 2015, has been getting away with it because, as former ABs captain, he knows only too well there is a different sense of justice when it comes to patriotic games.

Loosehead prop Joe Moody, Franks' Super Rugby teammate, was suspended for two weeks after pleading guilty to elbowing Waratahs midfielder Kurtley Beale in the jaw during the Super Rugby match in Christchurch a fortnight ago.

It hardly matters that Moody went on to score a try from the ensuing off-the-ball attack but the burning question is how did he and Franks remain on the field after connecting with opponents' noggins?

Highlanders winger Tevita Nabura was cited for the flying kick to the head of Tahs counterpart Cam Clark which supposedly helped break a 40-match Super Rugby hoodoo against Kiwi sides in Sydney last Saturday.

Rookie Nabura was rightly sent off for the 19th-minute incident on the suggestion of TV match official George Ayoub to Kiwi referee Brendon Pickerill.

Frankly, sending off or not, the Highlanders didn't deserve to win although I couldn't understand Pickerill's reasoning for letting Tahs flanker Michael Hooper off for a deliberate knock on not long after Aaron Smith was handed a yellow-card sinbin sentence for the same offence.

That aside, how does Nabura's head kick compare with Franks and Moody's shots?