Each sport has different ways of punishing players. The NFL awards field position to an offenders opponents, and the NHL forces penalized teams to play at a disadvantage. The NBA offers teams free throws or a fresh shot clock. The MLB doesn’t really have penalties, per se. Sure, balks, walks, or catcher’s interference could be considered penalties of sorts, but the main way the MLB keeps players in line is through suspensions.
No fan likes penalties, at least those called on their team, but they’re a necessary evil to keep players in check. Hockey, basketball, and football involve a lot of contact and players can frequently lose their temper. Penalties can deter athletes from getting too physical, and provide a quick break in the action so everyone can cool down.
Players in certain positions are more likely to be called for penalties because of the role they play. NBA centers who are forced to defend the rim from players running straight at them are much more likely be called for a foul than guards who generally play defense near the three point line. Many NHL teams roster enforcers, whose primary job is to antagonize the other team and start fights.
Some players, however, seem to cause trouble due to their character, rather than the position they play. Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict has a reputation for playing dirty. He’s been suspended for illegal hits and fined over one million dollars in his career.
24/7 Wall St. reviewed the number of penalties called on each player, as well as suspensions, in the four major U.S. sports leagues. We ranked players based on the impact their penalties and suspensions had on their team.