Led by 24-hour cable TV and radio, the sports chatter business has become one of America’s leading industries. They have a lot of time to fill, so they dissect everything.
Every. Little. Thing. Was LeBron James right or wrong to order scrambled eggs for breakfast? The debate is on!
That’s only a slight exaggeration.
Still, some topics do warrant some analysis – such as the recent fan-pushing by Oklahoma State basketball star Marcus Smart.
Smart tumbled into fan seating on a play, and while getting up was verbally assaulted by a grown Texas Tech fan. Smart shoved the man with both hands. He’s apologized, pretty remorseful-like, and was suspended for three important games.
The fan in question, Jeff Orr, also has apologized and has “suspended” himself for the remainder of the season. His apology, too, seemed sincere and contrite.
There was some disagreement over just what he said to Smart to prompt the push; Smart initially claimed Orr had used a racial slur, while Orr has denied it.
But what’s more important than what was said is that it was said. Neither party argues with the fact that it was abusive and shouldn’t have been said.
Conventional wisdom in this country is that fans who buy tickets to games have an absolute right to say whatever they want. Maybe technically, to a point. But in our view, that doesn’t give them the
license to verbally abuse anyone on a personal basis – particularly college kids, no matter how
talented or big or celebrated.
It’s time fans showed a little restraint, and
police their own conduct.
Football fans are probably the worst, especially when alcohol is involved. It’s sad when stadiums have to have holding cells for the out-of-control jerks.
Yes, superstars like Marcus Smart willingly sign up for the spotlight. They’re grown-ups, physically. We don’t have much sympathy for them, particularly with Smart’s lack of self-control. Players should never attack fans. Ever. Their chiseled muscles are capable of more damage than they know, and their station in life demands self-discipline.
But they are, after all, still very young men, engaged in a passionate, physical, sometimes hot-tempered athletic pursuit with all their beings – and they’re under a microscope almost every second. They even have to watch what they write in cyberspace, though their little classmates do not. They live and play under a double standard.
Verbally assaulting them is not only uncivil and wrong, it’s foolhardy – something akin to going to Pamplona and running into the bulls.
Adults in the stands ought to have a little lower standards for those young people, and a little higher standard for themselves.