Monday, March 17, 2008


This was supposed to have been published a while ago with some editorial tweaks for another site. While it may seem foolish to have not done so, the voice of this post is one that I did not want to change very much. At the same time, with plenty on the plate these days, Scribe will need all of the updates it can get.

There are too many pieces in Draft mode and eventually, this week, they will be published in the proper outlets and time.

Anthony Erskine got lucky.

Very lucky.

The seventeen-year old teenager was the fan that ran onto the sideline just to say ‘hi’ to LeBron James over a week ago. The Cleveland Cavaliers’ forward had just been taken out of the game against the Knicks after dropping 50 points in front of the New York crowd when Erskine ran onto the court and actually got a hi-five from the star. It was a scary moment, for sure, but one that isn’t exactly uncommon in this era of sports.

This is reminiscent of a college course a few years back when the professor opened up the class with the etymology of the word ‘fan’:

There is some confusion as to the origin of the word fan. Paul Dickson, in his Dickson Baseball Dictionary, cites William Henry Nugent's work that traces it to fancy, a 19th century term from England that referred mainly to followers of boxing. It was originally shortened to fance then just to the homonym fans. The word emerged as an Americanism around 1889. Many assume that it's a shortened version of the word fanatic, and the word did first become popular in reference to an enthusiastic follower of a baseball team. (Fanatic itself, introduced into English around 1525, means "insane person". It comes from the Modern Latin fanaticus, meaning "insanely but divinely inspired".
It was reported that James had extended an invite to Erskine for the Cavaliers’ next game in New Jersey against the Nets. Erskine will likely face a lifetime ban from Madison Square Garden along with what the Manhattan District Attorney may come up with, but it didn’t faze him or James much. James seemed to have reveled in it after the March 7th game, saying that he respects the teen for his bravery to come on the court and share his adulation.

That may sound great if you were a high school point guard that just won the state championship.

That may sound awesome to someone who kicked the winning field goal that clinched a bowl game for a perennial laughingstock college football program.

For a pro athlete? Not so much.

James may have felt like a precocious teen himself – yes, it wasn’t very long ago - when he thought about inviting his admirer to the Nets game, but his peers may think otherwise. The NBA prides itself on not only the skill and physiques of its players, but its emphasis on entertainment. One of the aspects that create this game-as-entertainment aura is the fact that the fans sit so close to the players. Unlike other sports, there is no barrier that separates the athletes from the fans or at least slows fans down from entering the court unauthorized.

This makes you wonder if fans know the divide between admiring and obsessing.

Most of us sports fans tend to recognize that there is a proverbial buffer between us and the players. We wouldn’t exactly cross that for any reason, even if we ogle a player’s stats and highlights too much. So we wouldn’t dare cross the real buffers at a real game, right?

Unfortunately, there are a few fans that would. There are a few that have more than posters, jerseys and taped games. They obsess over any little news clip that mentions the object of affection. They might even buy a ticket in order to get closer to their ‘idol’. At some point, a light goes off and they find themselves hogtied and hoisted into a police car.

Just ask Günter Parche, the man who stabbed the 19-year-old tennis star Monica Seles during a match in 1993.

Or William Ligue, Jr. and his fifteen year old son, who attacked former Kansas City Royals first base coach Tom Gamboa in a 2002 game in Chicago against the White Sox.

Or even Craig Sager, the TNT and TBS sports reporter who, as a fan, actually waited for Hank Aaron at home plate shortly after the slugger hit his then-record 715th home run back in 1974.

Then, there's the fears of another Malice at the Palace. No further explanation needed.

This isn’t to say that Erskine or another LeBron James admirer would go the same lengths. It’s quite possible that the young fan really wanted to say hello and kick it after the game. Yet, if the horrendous Seles incident or other moments of infamy haven’t sunk in the minds of the sporting public, it may take something even worse.

Hard to believe LeBron would appreciate that.

Say What?!?!: Speaking of crazed fans, can someone explain this?

No comments: