Too often you see one athlete making faces at another, taunting, trash talking and otherwise bullying an opponent or competitor. This needs to stop. Thousands of children look up to these athletes as heroes. They need to show their fans first and foremost how to be a decent human being.
No, as long as it is just done in joking for fun and doesn't get out of hand. I think it can be fun to be competitive and do a little good natured taunting. It makes you want to play harder, but it should be in good humor and have to do with the game, not them personally.
As long as the taunting isn't too sever, then I do not think that athletes should be punished for taunting their opponents. I think that sometimes emotions run a bit high during games. It is only natural when people are competing at the highest levels. But I also think that there has to be a level of professionalism.
I don't think we can raise the level of pressure in competitive sports to the level that it is without expecting taunting between rivals. These athletes compete for placement on teams, sponsorships, endorsements. What they are most competing for, however, is a fan base. That, more than talent, seems to be what keeps athletes employed and relevant. You are going to see fierce rivalries and you are going to see verbal expressions of those rivalries. They have to prove to the fans that they are worth watching.
I have a part of me that wants to say yes, they should be punished, but then at the same time I'm thinking, wait a minute, it's sports. I think there are some situations where taunting is completely normal in sports, almost expected. So, I think it's hard to say players should be punished, if that's the case.