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MLS announces discipline for Colin Clark

Colin Clark  has been suspended for three games, fined by MLS Commissioner Don Garber.
Colin Clark has been suspended for three games, fined by MLS Commissioner Don Garber.

The hammer just came down on Houston Dynamo midfielder Colin Clark for the offensive gay slur he directed at a ball boy in Seattle last Friday. Here's the release from the Dynamo:

HOUSTON (Wednesday, March 28, 2012) - Major League Soccer today announced discipline for Houston Dynamo midfielder Colin Clark.

MLS Commissioner Don Garber has suspended Clark for three games and fined him an undisclosed amount for using unacceptable and offensive language toward a ball boy in the seventh minute of the game in Seattle on Friday, March 24.

"Major League Soccer will not tolerate this type of behavior from its players or staff at any time, under any circumstances," MLS Commissioner Don Garber said. "Colin Clark has expressed sincere remorse for his actions and I believe that he will learn from this incident."

Commissioner Garber also mandated that Clark attend diversity and sensitivity training. This is in addition to the training that all MLS clubs attend at the beginning of each season.

"I am sorry about what happened during the Seattle match," Clark said. "I have personally apologized to the ball boy, and I want to take this chance to say I'm sorry to everyone that I've offended. I intend to never use those words again in any context. There is no excuse for them. What I said does not properly represent who I am or what I believe. I made a mistake that I truly regret. I accept the punishment that has been handed down by MLS, and I want to learn from this incident and move forward."

Official Dynamo statement: "Colin Clark made a regrettable and inexcusable mistake for which he is being disciplined. We accept and support the punishment that has been laid out by MLS and look forward to moving beyond it. We know that this incident is not a true representation of Colin's character or beliefs and that he is remorseful for what happened. He has a strong record of being a community leader and expect that he will use this as a learning and teaching opportunity in the future."

What do you think about this? Does the punishment fit the crime? I think it does. Colin Clark has done a lot of good things around the Houston area since arriving here via the Brian Mullan trade in 2010, from supporting kids with cancer to making sure poorer kids can attend games. It would be incorrect indeed to take this one incident and say it sums up Colin Clark. Anyone who says that does not know Colin Clark and/or is ignorant of history as a stand up guy in the community and the work he has done for kids in this city.

Jose de Jesus Ortiz' story in the Chronicle (here) provides a great context of Clark's history. Here's what I think is relevant:

In his seventh season in MLS, Clark stayed away from controversy throughout his career until the seventh minute of the Dynamo's 2-0 loss Friday night at CenturyLink Field.

In 2009, the Fort Collins, Colo., native was named the Colorado Rapids' Humanitarian of the Year for his numerous off-the-field efforts in his native state.

In Houston, he was one of the biggest MLS names to participate in the annual Kick Cancer Camp to benefit Curing Children's Cancer.

Clark has never once excused his actions, nor shrunk from the harsh spotlight his own actions have brought on him, and more power to him for that. Anyone in his training classes who does not take it seriously, or who is trying to defend her or his own past bad behaviors is about to get some peer pressure from their classmate Mr. Clark. Who knows, a whole lot of good might just come out of this after all.

By the way, Clark will miss the Dynamo's games at Chicago, Columbus and DC. He will be eligible to return May 9 at New York, and then three days later at the opening of BBVA Compass Stadium.