Saturday, November 20, 2004


As a general rule I don't watch (or even follow) the NBA. A one-time fan of the Los Angeles Lakers back in the 1980's glory days of NBA basketball, I looked forward to each new season because I knew I'd have fun arguing with my good friend, Jimmy (a hard-core Celtics fan). Actually, we could never figure out why they even bothered with the season: just let L.A. and Boston duke it out in a seven-game Finals series and be done with it.

Over the years, the game has devolved into a sport played by street thugs, drug dealers, and inexperienced 18-year-old children. It's all about the highlight-reel dunks, and "defense" has become a dirty word. Because of this, I'd rather watch fruit decompose rather than watch an NBA game.

I happened to be channel surfing last night before I went to work and came upon ESPN just as Ben Wallace shoved Ron Artest. I was shocked by what that seemingly insignificant skirmish escalated into.

Ron Artest is a crazy man. Something's not right in his head. I'm sure he'll take the brunt of the punishment doled out to the players involved because of his past, and I suppose he deserves it. As a professional athlete, you simply cannot allow yourself to go into the stands. All pro athletes are paid ridiculous sums of money to play children's games and with it comes the burden of taking abuse from the fans. But I'd like to know how much abuse should the players have to take? At what point have the fans crossed the line? Think about it: you're at your job, minding your own business. Someone comes in and starts screaming obscenities and epithets at you. You'd probably have security or the police escort that person out. What would you do if that same person came in and threw a bottle of beer or a chair at you? I realize this comparison is very exaggerated (Milton Bradley and I don't have the same job), but the point I'm trying to make is that although retaliation by the players isn't right- I can completely understand why they do it.

I'm not trying to excuse the actions of the Ron Artests and Milton Bradleys of the professional sports world- but fan behaviour has gotten out of control. Paying an admission fee to watch a ball game does not give you carte blanche to act like a moronic thug. Fans throwing objects at players is inexcusable. Fans running onto the field and attacking coaches is inexcusable. These idiots are getting more and more daring and something needs to be done to hold them accountable for their actions, just as the athletes are held responsible for theirs.

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