Whatever happened to the concept of respect in the world of professional sports?
Throughout the years, professional athletes across all sports have been revered and respected, for the most part, and the privilege of attending a sporting event was like no other.
However, considering the chaos that consumed the Nov.19 Pacers-Pistons game in Auburn Hill, Mich., it is more than evident that things have changed.
What started as a common scuffle between players escalated into a disgusting display of savagery on the part of Detroit fans. This ultimately resulted in the suspension of several valued players, players who were doing nothing more than defending their pride and affirming their right to be safe and respected on court.
Trying to distract the opposing team by yelling and taunting is one thing. But a ‘fan’ bringing it upon himself to hurl an object at a resting player is simply unacceptable. Whatever distorted frame of reference gave him the apparent liberty to take such extreme action seemed to spread to other ‘fans’ with frightening speed. Caught up in a fierce mob mentality, Detroit fans lashed out against the retreating Pacers, throwing food and drinks on the players’ shielded heads as they rushed into the locker room after the game.
NBA players are professionals who deserve just as much respect as the fans who pay to watch them. We should by no means think of them as entertainers who need to give us a performance that is worth our money. The events that took place on Nov. 19 were both horrifying and inhumane, sadly displaying a measure of regression in interpersonal relations in our society.
When all is said and done in what is now known as the infamous ‘Malice in the Palace’ incident at Auburn Hills, Mich., who is to blame? Even though security, the fans and players, share some of the blame it is the athletes who are most at fault.
Artest’s job that night was to play a game of basketball. He’s paid to go out onto the court and stay composed and focused on the task at hand. It looked as if Artest was doing his job as he sat on the announcer’s table until a cup hit him on the head, which led to a riot.
Artest, along with his fellow suspended teammates, should have been able to let the situation go even though they knew it was wrong for fans to throw objects at them.
Also, the Pistons’ fan who threw the cup and the other Pistons fan who went down onto the court to ridicule Artest should have both been ejected from the game by security. This just shows that all professional athletes need to maintain self-control at all times. They are not only representing their teams and the NBA but are active role models to our youth even if they do not want to take on this role.
When a team goes onto the court in any away game, it’s obvious that the fans of the opposing team are going to be rowdy and yell at your team. That’s the way it goes. Not everyone is on your side and, as a player, you know this even before the game begins.
If an athlete lacks any self-control when it comes to the game, then they get what they deserve.
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