Callum Crawford Hit Sparks Debate, Was it dirty or not?

Photo Courtesy of Lacrosse All Stars                                                                                                                

Unless you have been living under a rock, you have heard all about the Callum Crawford dilemma that has surrounded the NLL over the past month. Crawford was suspended for six games after receiving an elbowing major and a game misconduct penalty, thus being ejected, back on February 24th.

Crawford was assessed a six game suspension because the league upgraded the major to a match penalty. Because of that Crawford was in violation of repeat offender rule which states, “Any player who is assessed a second match penalty or a second Dangerous Contact to the head penalty or combination thereof, within a two-year period, shall be assessed a five game suspension.”

The one-game suspension for the match penalty was upheld after an appeal but the hearing officer decided to trim the five-game suspension for repeat offender down to a one-game suspension, which Crawford served on March 16th in New Enlgand’s loss at Vancouver. 

On Sunday, March 31st Callum Crawford came back into the lineup as the New England Black Wolves had a home contest against the Rochester Knighthawks. The Black Wolves had an oppourtunity to clinch the fourth a final playoff spot in the east but Rochester didn’t let that happen, winning 13-8. 

In the game Callum Crawford found himself in a similar situation as he was given a major for a hit on Rochester’s Jake Withers. The hit looks very similar to the hit he laid on Toronto’s Brad Kri in February and on a Calgary player in 2018. 

Of course, this hit sparked conversation and debate across all platforms of social media. People are arguing in favor of Callum Crawford saying the hit was to the chest and not in the head, and then there were others that said it was a dirty play and started blaming the PLPA and NLL for the whole appeal process, arguing he shouldn’t be on the floor and the only reason he got off the hook was because he’s an MVP candidate. 

I quickly jumped in on Twitter and stated in multiple replies that I thought it was dirty and this whole situation would spark a change in the appeal process and the repeat offender rule. I still believe that those things should and likely will be looked at during the offseason. But upon further examination, I lessened my view on this particular hit. When you slow it down it looks dirty at first but when you really look at it you can see he isn’t going for Withers head. Yes, he is jumping like he did in the past two hits that got him in trouble and that is a problem. 

After looking at it from multiple different perspectives, dirty or not dirty, I don’t think he should have been given a major for particular this hit but a penalty was definitely warranted. If you watch it closely you see the ball is loose and he hits Withers in the chest while he is playing the ball. Withers then goes down hard due to the hit. Crawford also didn’t have his stick in his hand when he delivered the hit on Withers. That’s a penalty for sure, but a major in that situation? It depends. 

I am in no way saying that dirty hits are ok or defending Crawford’s actions in the past, because they are not ok. But that is just the view-point I came to after FULLY reviewing the video, both at full speed and slowed down like the GIF we have all seen surfacing on Twitter. The thing that Callum Crawford has to realize is that he is now under a microscope and anything he does may or may not be taken more seriously by the officials just because he now has a history.

When will he learn and realize that is up to him, but it needs to be soon. He is a fun player to watch and it is unfortunate, but if he does indeed win the MVP this season many will view it with an asterisk next to his name. Is that fair? Maybe not. But that is how opposing players, coaches, and fans will likely view it. 

What’s your view on this whole situation? Leave a comment below or connect with us on Social Media if you have a particular view on this. 


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