One of the top non-Olympic (yawn) stories today is about a basketball player for Oklahoma State who gave a fairly mild shove to a fan at the tail end of the game between OSU and Texas Tech.
Smart fell into the stands after rushing down court to block a shot and something was said that infuriated him enough to get first into a shouting match with the fan and then shove him.
It’s a bad situation all the way around. It’s my opinion that fans are becoming increasingly crude, vile, and nasty towards not only opposing players but their own team. That they feel because they paid for their tickets they can say and do just about anything they want. I wrote about it in a blog after I had a pretty bad experience at a Rams game.
The fan who raised the ire of Smart, Jeff Orr, is apparently well-known to the Texas Tech Athletic Department. He travels to many away games and roots for the Red Raiders. I don’t know what he said. It could have been anything. Smart and the Cowboys have been struggling lately and that can lead to frustration. Smart is a 19-year-old young man, a kid from my perspective. I remember being pretty volatile at that age as well.
Maybe what was said was innocuous and Smart overreacted.
Maybe the fan made an incredibly vile comment and deserved to have his teeth knocked down his throat. I don’t know.
I do know that the situation is dangerous, particularly where the fans are very close to the athletes and basketball is probably the prime example of this. Players spill off the court into the stands fairly regularly and this is not the first such interaction of this nature. The NBA had an extremely high-profile incident a few years back and others since. The NHL has had incidents.
In college sports these are very young men and women who perhaps are not mentally mature.
What’s the solution? A little decency is all it takes. If you’re a fan and want to express your unhappiness with an opposing player or a player on your team, do it with a little control. Boo all you want. Call them a bum. Don’t talk about their race, their religion, their mother or sisters, or the fact that they have a DUI on their record. I’m not just talking of sparing the opposing player, I’m talking about showing a little respect for the fans next to you, they paid for their seats also.
If you are a fan and someone is behaving in a disgusting fashion say something. Don’t be rude like them, that is what they want. Just ask politely if they could not use disgusting language, racial slurs, religious slurs, or some human failing of the athlete involved. Remind them that you paid for your ticket also. If they continue then it’s probably time to get security involved.
Don’t we all just want to have a good time at the game? Root for our team, boo the best player on the opponent’s squad while recognizing their athletic ability, enjoy a beer without getting sloppy drunk, and then go home and have the memories?
If you’re yelling vile things during a largely meaningless sporting event, what does that say about you as a human being? As a father? As a role-model?
Again, I’m not saying Orr is guilty in all of this, it’s possible he didn’t say anything wrong. I think Smart was absolutely wrong to even acknowledge the fan, let alone shove him. I’m just suggesting that incidents like this can be avoided if people choose to show a little something called personal responsibility.
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