Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Rude fans and thuggish players

The big hullabaloo in the NBA over the weekend has everybody up in arms. This particular incident certainly was noteworthy due to its spectacular nature, which we have seen on TV ad nauseam.

There are two groups in this mix, players and fans, and both of them have clearly defined roles. This is really not that complicated. The players are there to play a game, and the fans are there to watch them.

When either the fans or the players stray beyond those boundaries into what we saw last weekend, then we have a problem.

Part of the problem is that our society has lost its manners, its ability to treat each other in a civilized fashion. Americans have turned into a crude lot, with little patience and not much self-discipline.

We have forgotten, or thrown away, the maxim that just because we have the RIGHT to do or say something doesn’t mean we OUGHT to do or say it. Discretion is the better part of valor, the old saying goes, and it is still as true today as when it was coined. It is to our collective discredit that we so often fail to heed this bit of wisdom.

So we have rude fans that taunt the players, and occasionally throw things at them, and we have some players in professional sports that are little more than street thugs who have great athletic ability and not much of an understanding of civilized behavior. And both fans and players have been allowed to cross the line of acceptable behavior without much being done to them.

So when you combine rude fans acting stupidly with thuggish players who live by the law of the streets, you have what professional sports are turning into, and the potential for more of the same kinds of behavior we witnessed in the Pistons and the Pacers game.

Well, the players and fans who participated in this fracas all need to be dealt with according to their individual wrongs. Some deserve suspension from playing or watching, and some deserve fines or jail time.

By doling out stiff punishment to those who have earned it, both fans and athletes will start getting the message that their behavior won’t be tolerated. Then maybe professional sports will again be suitable for nice people and their children.


Anonymous said...

Oh, if there were just some way in which we could give rude, crude, vulgar fans the same kind of suspension given Artest. (And I believe his suspension was about six years too short.) A total ban on watching, either floorside or electronically, might make a handful of agitators understand that probably as many as 99.999% of fans do NOT engage in such behavior.

James Shott said...

I mostly agree with that comment, except that I think a far larger proportion of fans indulge in rude behavior than you do.

I agree that relatively few stoop to throwing more than an epithet or two, however.