Saturday, November 27, 2004

Wake up Pro Athletes and smell what you are cooking.

Some athletes just don’t get it. I sat in horror last weekend watching the craziness from Detroit wondering how these guys don’t get sent to jail.

For you not in the know, a small fight broke out at the end of an NBA game between the Detroit Pistons and the Indiana Pacers. Ron Artest of the Pacers fouled Ben Wallace of the Pistons pretty hard at the end of a game in which the Pacers were sticking it to the Pistons bad. Wallace was upset at the foul and tried to get at Artest in an attempt to fight. The two players were separated by referees and teammates but Wallace stayed angry and kept trying to get to Artest. During the attempts to calm Wallace down, Artest made fun of the situation by lying down on the scorer’s table on the sidelines. While lying there, someone in the stands threw a cup of some liquid (I assume beer) which hit him in the chest. Artest jumped up and went into the stands in order to beat the guy who had thrown the beverage. After finding a guilty looking spectator, Artest threw him to the grand and began pummeling him

Artest is not a little guy. ESPN.com lists him at 6’ 7” tall and 247 pounds. Neither are his teammates Jermain O’Neal at 6’ 11” 242 and Steven Jackson at 6’ 8” 220, who decided to join Artest in the melee either in the stands or with people who have come on to the court during the riot that was caused by players going into the stands.

I was not at the game and all I saw were reports on ESPN and other news programs. The reporters stated that the guy that Artest pummeled in the stands was not even the guy that threw the beverage in the first place. Video shows that Jackson joined Artest in the stands and started fighting with a fan that was trying to pull Artest off the guy he was beating up. Further video shows that at some point a fan had gone onto the court and was being restrained by some unidentified people and O’Neal came over and hit him while he was being held.

I have no idea what the fans might have done earlier in the game but no matter what they had done, with the possible exception of shooting someone, nothing they could have done would have justified what the Pacer players did during the altercation. However, nothing the players did justified what the fans did after, pelting the players as they were removed from the floor and taken to their locker room. Detroit fans pelted them with every item listed on the concession stand menu.

While I was disgusted with the Pacer players and the Detroit fans who participated in the fight, I was just as disgusted with the group of former NBA players that ESPN has hired as their NBA analysts. This group of morons stated that the Pacer players were acting in self-defense, protecting themselves from the unruly Detroit fans. That’s funny, I saw the Pacer players going into the stands after people and hitting people on the court while they were being held. I didn’t see that as a heck of a lot of self endangerment. But when I thought about what these idiots were saying, I realized that they were just brothers in the same fraternity with the morons fighting with the fans. Like doctors covering for each other, the announcers were trying to make their brothers look OK.

When are these guys going to realize that they live a privileged lifestyle, allowing them to garner wages that they would not be able to make in other jobs? While I have no questions regarding most of their effort, I question that attitude that is not appreciative of the fan base that provides the enormous salaries that they draw. And while I agree with Charles Barkley’s “I am a basketball player, not a role model” sentiment, I think that Charles and other athletes and former athletes should appreciate the position that they are put in due to a fan bases enjoyment of their accomplishments. It is the fans that not only buy the tickets and watch the games on TV but idolize the players making them a valuable commodity when it comes to determining spokespersons for advertising and endorsing

Two years ago I was at a hockey game with my wife and kids (aged 3 and 9 at the time) where a young couple sitting directly behind me used profanity over and over again during the game. Now I am no saint but I have cleaned up my language a lot since getting married and I don’t believe I was ever that vulgar when around my elders and around kids. Because of my mouth when I was younger, I let it slide for the first period. After that period, I asked the couple to please watch the language. They agreed to but the profanity continued during the second period. At some point I got up and turned around to confront the man-boy with the mouth. His wife decided to argue with me that I was a bad parent for bringing my kids to a hockey game where it was OK to curse as much as they were. I questioned the people sitting around me who also had their kids there if they thought it was OK to bring kids to the game. I will let you guess their answer and I proceeded to tell the lady that I was amazed that she even could get a date considering how nasty she was. The man exclaimed that she was his wife to which I expressed my condolences for having married such a witch. I offered to take the guy outside and seep the sidewalk with his face if he felt too insulted by my comments regarding his wife be he declined. At some point someone decided that the cops should be summoned and after he refused my offer for a trip outside the stadium we sat back down with his oath to utter no more profanity. When the cops showed up and stated that they would sit by all of us, the young couple decided to leave the game and most of the section stood and applauded.

Had the guys accompanied me outside or had we fought right there, I would have probably gone to jail. Of course, I am like most people in the world and am not treated as something so different that I can br3eak the law and get away with it.

A couple of weeks before the incident in Detroit, Ron Artest told his coaches that he needed some time off in order to promote his new hip-hop or rap album. Now I don’t pretend to know the slightest about hip-hop but I would guess that Mr. Artest would not even have a recording contract if it weren’t for basketball. Maybe I am wrong, and it wouldn’t be a first, but I am guessing that Artest is using his name as a basketball player (or maybe that is playa) and his reputation as a bad boy into garnering a following. Or perhaps this fight was a win-win situation for Artest; perhaps being a thug helps sell his CDs and his suspension gives him time to promote it. Too bad he won’t have to promote it from jail.


Health and Happiness

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