Monday, November 22, 2004

Plenty of Blame to Go Round

In my latest ABA post, The Moody Minstrel made a comment about the Indiana/Detroit NBA brawl. I thought, what the heck, my uninformed opinion is as good as anyone; so why not force it on the dear, valued readership of Snabulus?

At first glance, this is the typical arrogant NBA player gets into a scrap with another similar player, followed by a bit of fighting, followed by the player meets drunken fan and an altercation; but it went waaaaaaaay beyond the norm.

The NBA responded with extremely harsh punishments against the players involved. That is the red meat that a public irked by player misconduct and negative attitudes desires. As Clyde Drexler says:

"Wow, that's pretty stiff," he said. "But that will ensure that it never happens again.

Drexler said going after fans is "just not an option."

"As professional athletes we are caretakers of the game," he said.

However, the players are only one aspect of the problem. Former Bull Steve Kerr mentions:

Imagine what any of us would do if a person showed up to our workplace, taunted us and then threw a beer in our face? How many of us would show any restraint at all?

Indeed, NBA Commissioner David Stern, in his statement on the suspensions, realizes a bigger picture:

There are other issues that the NBA must urgently focus on at this time. First, we must redefine the bounds of acceptable conduct for fans attending our games and resolve to permanently exclude those who overstep those bounds. Participants in and around the court must be assured complete protection from unacceptable fan behavior. Second, we must re-examine the adequacy of our current security procedures in Detroit and our other 28 arenas. The actions at Friday's game, though unprecedented, must now be factored into all efforts to guarantee the well-being of our fans. Third, we must develop and implement new NBA rules to assure that the unavoidable confrontations likely to occur in the heat of competition are not allowed to escalate to the level we witnessed on Friday even prior to the egregious behavior by individuals in the stands.

Indeed, there were players involved in wrongdoing and Artest was foremost among them. But how is it that, in the age of Homeland Security, the fan that threw a drink at Ron Artest was not cuffed and stuffed within seconds. What if he had a suicide belt on? I thought we were on guard here and what better place to terrorize than a sports arena. In addition, how is it security couldn't move in immediately to form a barrier between fans and players? Every game has dozens of security people around. What were they doing and what are they being paid for?

As Sports Illustrated Marty Burns avers:

O'Neal's suspension also seems a bit harsh. Yes, he decked a fan on the court. But at that point the mob scene had become dangerous, with angry fans coming onto the floor, and O'Neal had no way of knowing if the fan had bad intentions.

Once again, what were fans doing on the floor? In such inadequate security conditions, what are players supposed to do but fight their way out of the mob? The proper litmus test for NBA punishment is whether a player left the floor. If they left the playing floor, then the fine should stand (as in Artest's case). If the fans are on the court, the players have every right to defend themselves because arena security broke down (O'Neal's case). It is as simple as that.

In the end, what it gets down to is that players need to learn, in the harshest possible way, not to interact with fans. Some fans, as I've noticed personally, are getting more and more barbaric. This is a function of bad behavior aided by alcohol. Eliminating alcohol or stopping sales toward the end of the 2nd quarter would go a long way toward calming belligerence. More proactive security and removal of fans whose taunts are hateful or hurtful before an incident occurs would help as well.

As Steve Kerr mentions in the article linked above:

Players are forced to endure verbal taunting all the time in sports. I once warmed up for a game at Arizona State University while two inebriated fans taunted me about the death of my father. I've had teammates endure all kinds of ugly insults, threats and barbs.

The NBA has taken the step to stop the wrongdoing of the players. Let us hope they are as vigilant about the other deficiencies that led to this sorry state.


The Moody Minstrel said...

The level of surprise generated by the Indiana/Detroit brawl (sorry about my error in my earlier comment--for some reason Snabulus no longer allows me to edit my comments) only goes to show just how out of touch the U.S. is with the world soccer scene. Even here in Japan (with the worst incidents to date being right here in my home turf, Kashima) it is not uncommon for angry fans to start bombarding players with cups, bottles, sometimes even cell phones if the team doesn't live up to expectations and charge the pitch if they really fail to cut the mustard. Such things are far more common in Europe and South America. It's just considered par for the course.

However, when such incidents take place, players are usually only punished in any way if they clearly took offensive action. Self-defense doesn't even merit a reprimand. Moreover, fans involved in the altercation are quickly arrested and banned from the stadium until further notice. In the case of a mass charging of the pitch, it is not uncommon for riot police (who are always on standby as standard procedure) to be called in. Then you have the amazing sight of fans being tear-gassed and dragged away.

That's considered normal sports elsewhere in the world. Perhaps the U.S. has been lucky that it has been able to maintain a certain level of honor and integrity...till the trash-talking, arse-stomping bad attitudes of today became popular.

But of course, for the sake of media entertainment (i.e. the Cardassian view of "Let the people see justice being served so they can feel secure"), it seems only the celebrity figures are being punished.

DewKid said...

To be honest, my initial reaction to seeing Artest get hit by a drink, and seeing him jump up was "yeah, get that SOB that threw the thing." The look on the fans faces amused me, because they were like "what, you're actually going to fight back? You're not supposed to do that!"

Dumbasses. I actually don't fault security much - I mean, the guy didn't have any weapon (that we know of) besides the cup of beer he bought at the game. The action happened too quick to expect multitudes of security to be johnny-on-the-spot dragging people away. There were plenty of people there to stop the riot (did you see that guy chasing Artest up the stadium trying to grab his shirt?) and did so effectively enough in the end.

The only point I thought security could have aided the situation, was when the drunken fans decided it was appropriate to pour beer and throw more cups at the players as they were leaving the stadium. Where were they then?

Still, Artest was a ticking time-bomb (this wasn't his first "acting out"), and his behavior was over the top. He should be removed from basketball altogether.

The fan who started the riot, is no golden citizen either. Turns out he has a criminal record involving alcohol and physical violence. Seems giving him some beer, and putting him in the same room as Artest was an accident waiting to happen. He should be charged with a crime, in my opinion.

Vulgarius said...

Well its not quite Constantinople. But then again its sad to see our sports go this way

I remember my last jaunt in Germany Some friends and I were in Berlin in the evening walking around by the Victoria column. Suddenly a convoy of Polizei VW vans came rollling past us whith lights and sirens...36 of them in all loaded with 8 riot troops each. My friends asked what was up? I replied: Soccer game. The news paper bore it out the next morning.

Don Snabulus said...

Even old New York was once New Amsterdam
Why they changed it I can't say
People just liked it better that way

Istanbul was Constantinople
Now it's Istanbul, not Constantinople
Been a long time gone, Constantinople
Why did Constantinople get the works?
That's nobody's business but the Turks

So take me back to Constantinople
No, you can't go back to Constantinople
Been a long time gone, Constantinople
Why did Constantinople get the works?
That's nobody's business but the Turks

(from They Might Be Giants)

DewKid said...

Istanbul was Constantinople
Now it's Istanbul, not Constantinople
So if you have a date in Constantinople
she'll be meeting you in Istanbul


Particle man, particle man
Doing the things a particle can
What's he like? It's not important
Particle man

Is he a dot, or is he a speck?
When he's underwater does he get wet?
Or does the water get him instead?
Nobody knows, Particle man

(I love TMBG)

Don Snabulus said...

Dude, Ron Artest is Particle Man. Think about it. He got wet, then the water got him (suspended for the year). It all fits somehow.

I gotta quit eating these brownies. Some Turk gave them to me and my lips are numb. I asked him what was in it and he told me it was none of my business. It was right about then that 3 dozen VWs with sirens whizzed by.

Dude! Crap! Watch out for that chair.

Vulgarius said...

Maybe that was Amsterdam and not Istanbul?

Anonymous said...


36 vehicles with 8 riot cops each?

Too Gross!

aka the dirty double dozen dozen.

Vulgarius said...

It was very wierd. They just kept driving by one after the other after the other. I actually only started counting after the first ten or so had gone by. But I guess that they are used to that sort of thing there. Ive heard of worse soccer brawls though. Belgium Vs UK I think had a bad one. I'm not sure who was playing at this game.

DewKid said...

If Artest is Particle Man, then the fan is Triangle Man:

Triangle man, Triangle man
Triangle man hates particle man
They have a fight, Triangle wins
Triangle man

Triangle Fan? Hmmmm...

I don't have a "brownie" excuse.... Maybe I should stop eating... um... meat? NEVER!! BWOO HAH HAHA HAHA

(what was the original topic....? oh yeah, the NBA game.)

Suddenly, 36 VWs drive up and ask, "Excuse me, are you K.M.?"



Anonymous said...

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Play a szong forr me.
I'm not szleepy and zere isz no place I'm going too...

...too WHAT???

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Anonymous said...

Raging Lunatic:

Mmmmmm...did someone mention BEEEEEEEEEEEF??!?!?!?!?

Or was it another one o' them there brownies?