Thursday, November 19, 2009


You would have gone in the stands, too.

You may not have liked what happened five years ago in Auburn Hills, Michigan, but if a beer cup was hurled in your direction, you would have gone in the stands, too.

You wouldn’t have sat there and accepted that someone hurled an object in your direction with bad intentions.

You wouldn’t have been okay with someone putting themselves above the game, above the laws on the court and out of the realm of common sense.

Yet, we still believe that for some reason, it is the athlete who should not fight back; who should be subjected to more than mere boos because of salaries and ticket prices.

Those who viewed the night of the Malice at the Palace as one, if not, the darkest night in sports have either short-sighted visions or very selective memories. Thanks to some enterprising minds, there’s a comprehensive list of spectator-athlete confrontations on Wikipedia.

Taking a look at this lengthy list – you can imagine with thousands of games played around the world that there are many that aren’t listed here –several observations that came clear:
  • There are a lot of really, really, REALLY stupid people out there.
  • Baseball – a sport where participants are quite a distant away from each other –has quite the history of these interactions.
  • Hockey, despite the Plexiglas partition, has a number of moments that begin around the sin bin (penalty box).
  • These moments have increased in frequency in the last three decades.
  • American sports fans tend to say “look at the soccer hooligans in Europe!” when the truth is that there are more incidents here.
Today, Jemele Hill (a favorite for some, punching bag for others) wonders if the image of the NBA has truly been repaired. For Yahoo! Sports, Peter May asks if the Indiana Pacers; the team that took the brunt of the suspensions, fines and public relations hits, have emerged from the repercussions of that night. Geoff Latulippe asks if a non-NBA fan can become one on the fifth anniversary of the Brawl (this kind of article would never come up for another sport and league).

In various conversations, people are wondering if any lessons have been learned for the players, teams and league in the time that’s passed. Some even pondered if the league at the precipice of popularity, in danger of falling off completely with one more negative story despite the best play of any league in the last five years (yes, even better than the NFL).

However, what we should be wondering is what makes such people decide that testing their left hooks, fastballs and tackling skills against athletes who are more than able to put a hurting on them.

Nine out of ten times, alcohol is involved. Even the man whose cup-throw propelled Ron Artest to go into the stands, John Green, admitted in an interview on ESPN’s First Take that while the cup was filled with Diet Coke, it was his beer consumption that fueled his fire. Yet, that can’t be all.

There’s something else that’s at play; something deep down that gives these people – by the way, just two of the listed events involved women – the audacity to not only test their mettle against physically more potent athletes, but to endanger those around them.

What is it?

Say What?!?!: Speaking of stupid...

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