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Three-game ban for Colin Clark? Not harsh at all

Mar 28, 2012, 5:15 PM EDT

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Some might adjudge the three-game suspension to Colin Clark, announced by the league earlier today, as harsh on its face, all things considered.

Personally, I’d label it “just about right.”

Some things are bigger than individual circumstance. Yes, Clark will pay a high price for a moment that was unkind, ignorant and foolish – and made all the worse because it was directed an impressionable young boy – but ultimately not a physically injurious stick or stone.

But again, it’s bigger than Clark. It’s bigger than the Dynamo, the “Ws” and the “Ls.”

MLS commissioner Don Garber needed to send a crystal-clear message and he certainly did: Be publicly reckless and unenlightened and your own risk.

Garber delivered a similarly clear message last year about protecting players from reckless tackles, hammering Brian Mullan with a historically severe suspension. The Colorado Rapids midfielder was suspended for 10 games and fined $5,000 for the awful tackle on April 22, 2011, that broke Steve Zakuani’s leg in two places.

My only issue with the MLS judgment on Clark is the uneven application of such harsh justice. There was no action on Lee Nguyen in February for his anti-gay Twitter message earlier this year. It’s a different circumstance, of course, the platform less public and the target less vulnerable. (Nguyen tone deaf comment was meant as a kidding gesture toward a teammate).

So his offense wasn’t nearly as egregious and certainly didn’t deserve a three-game ban plus suspension. On the other hand, there’s a yawning gap between all of that and “nothing.”

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