An Examination of the Sports Culture
In today’s society, we value athletes as heroes and gods. The one thing we often forget is that they are also human beings, as well. They feel pain, they cry, and yes, they even get mad. These past few weeks, there has been a lot of controversy surrounding Oklahoma State Cowboys guard, Marcus Smart. Smart was involved in an incident with Texas Tech super fan Jeff Orr. Smart landed out of bounds and as he was getting up, a fan (Orr), made a comment that Smart did not like. Smart approached the fan and shoved him. Smart was assessed a technical foul but was not ejected from the game. The comment Orr made is still unclear and has yet to be confirmed, however Orr put out a statement saying that a racial epithet was not used and that he called Smart a “piece of crap.”
Let me first begin by saying that what Marcus Smart did was absolutely wrong and that he deserved to be suspended for three games, if not more. As a result, Smart’s draft stock will also plummet, possibly costing him thousands, if not millions of dollars, because of possible character issues. A top prospect in the upcoming draft, Smart now has to rebuild his reputation. Regardless of the situation, it is wrong to put your hands on another person-male or female-but being that Smart is a division one college basketball player for the Oklahoma State Cowboys, and that he is in under the microscope, this is being under analyzed and he is only being portrayed in a negative light. I, on the other hand, would like to reexamine the sports culture.
Is it fair or moral that a fan can sit and yell horrible things at an athlete, but the athlete can’t flinch or show emotion? Again let me reiterate, Smart should not have put his hands on the fan, but it does not make it right that a fan can yell horrible things without any backlash or repercussion. This happens every night, regardless of the sport. Step back and think about it for a second. This is something we see all too often and unfortunately, there are a never ending amount of examples in which both the athlete and a fan(s) were wrong, and I think it is time that fans are held to a higher standard.
Another example dates back to November of 2004, when the Indian Pacers took on the Detroit Pistons. This game, as the Associated Press calls it, “the most infamous brawl in NBA history” and is known as the “Malice at the Palace.” With little under a minute remaining in the game, a fight broke out on the court between the players, and as the fight was being broken up, a fan hurled a drink at Ron Artest (now Metta World Peace), who was cockily laying down on the scorers table, which sparked a brawl between players and fans. Artest, Stephen Jackson, and a few others charged into the stands swinging. The fight resulted in multiple suspensions, fines, and ended up costing Artest about five million dollars. What Artest and a few other players did was wrong and it sickens me that they still are privilege to play in the NBA, but a fan instigated this brawl by throwing a drink into the field of play.
Lastly, dating back to a baseball game in 2011, a San Francisco Giants fan, Bryan Stow, was attacked outside of Dodger Stadium by two Dodger fans, and they beat him within an inch of his life. Stow now has permanent brain injuries, and it is all because he had a Giants jersey on.
The two men recently pleaded guilty for the beating Stow and will serve a combined 12 years or 4383 days in jail, and is not enough if you ask me.
Think twice before you yell something ignorant and personal to an athlete or fan. There are plenty of ways to show your loyalty and passion for your team by still keeping the game respectable.
An earlier version of this story was published on Feb. 26th at The Suffolk Journal’s website here.