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Basketball fans are out of control

Basketball fans are out of control
June 10
11:24 2021

Fan is short for fanatic, but I think some people are taking that a little too literal. Recently there have been several incidents involving fans being out of control during games and the sports leagues need to address this soon, before a player handles it themselves.

For as long as I can remember, there have been fans running onto the field during football or baseball games ever so often. Sitting at home, everyone would laugh as the individual would attempt to elude security as they waved to the crowd.  

Also, I have been to many sporting events and it’s commonplace for fans to not only root for their team, but to also heckle the opponents and their fans as well. These things have all been good natured for the most part and have been a part of the game. 

I am not sure where this new breed of fan is coming from.

More and more fans nowadays have taken it a bit further than fans of old. Not only are they heckling the opponent, they are yelling obscenities, racial slurs, and have even begun to throw things and spit at players. This is totally unacceptable.

Why have fans become so emboldened to think they can do or say whatever they please and not expect any repercussions? Over the last decade, the behavior of some fans has become more and more outrageous.

A few years ago, there was an incident with then-Oklahoma City guard Russell Westbrook and a Utah Jazz fan. According to Westbrook, the fan was directing some disrespectful and racial comments at him.

“A young man and his wife in the stands told me to get down on my knees ‘like you used to,’” Westbrook said.  

The situation became national news and Westbrook was even fined $25,000 for directing profanity and threatening language toward a fan, which I find unbelievable. Following an investigation by the Jazz, the fan was subsequently permanently banned from all events at Vivint Smart Home Arena because of “excessive and derogatory verbal abuse directed at a player.”

Westbrook has been at the center of a few incidents involving fans over the years. We all know he has a short fuse at times; however, that does not give fans the right to overstep their boundaries.

The most recent situation involving Westbrook was when a fan poured popcorn on the Washington Wizards star as he was limping to the locker room during the fourth quarter of Game 2 in the first-round playoff series against the Philadelphia 76ers.

Many will say it was just popcorn, but what if it wasn’t? What if it would have been something more sinister that could have caused harm to Westbrook and those around him? That fan has also been banned indefinitely from all events at the Wells Fargo Center.

The 76ers organization issued a statement saying, “We apologize to Russell Westbrook and the Washington Wizards for being subjected to this type of unacceptable and disrespectful behavior. There is no place for it in our sport or our arena.”

The most deplorable act happened in Madison Square Garden during a playoff game between the New York Knicks and the Atlanta Hawks. While Hawks guard Trae Young was inbounding the ball, a fan was seen spitting on Young. The Knicks confirmed the fan’s actions and he has been banned indefinitely from Madison Square Garden.

“For spitting and things like that, that’s uncalled for in any arena and any environment,” Young said on ESPN prior to Game 3 against the Knicks. “So that’s disgusting, but we got to move forward and for me, I just focus on this team.”

Spitting on someone is the most deplorable, disgusting and disrespectful thing you can do to another person. It shows a complete lack of respect for the person that was spat on. If they were out on the street, I guarantee that fan would not have attempted such an action toward Young.  

Fans were also removed again from Utah during their Game 2 playoff series against the Memphis Grizzlies. This time the insults were hurled toward Grizzlies guard Ja Morant’s parents. Things such as, “I’ll put a nickel on your back and watch you dance, boy” and “Shut the f— up, b—-,” were said to his parents. Once again, this is uncalled for behavior from fans.

A fan also attempted to throw a bottle at Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving as he left the court during a playoff game and a fan also ran onto the court during Game 4 of the Wizards and 76ers series in Washington, D.C.  

The NBA must do something to address these issues that have started to become all too common. Some of these fans are acting like they are invincible and nothing will happen to them if they act this way.They need to remember that there is not a barricade or giant wall separating them from the court, so as easily as it is to throw or say something; it’s just as easy for a player to retaliate.

We have already seen what happens when players go into the stands. Everyone remembers the “Malice in the Palace” in 2004 when the player then known as Ron Artest was hit by an object thrown from the stands and chose to go after said fan. Several Pacers went into the stands and threw several punches at multiple fans.

That entire incident left a black eye on the entire league that remained for years. Artest, now known as Meta World Peace, was suspended for 86 games for the incident. Other Pacer players were also penalized for their roles in the fight.

I think it’s cowardice of fans to act in such a way at a basketball game because we all know those same individuals would be as silent as a church mouse if they ran into any NBA player on the street. It’s similar to how people talk a lot when typing on a keyboard on social media, but you know they would never back up those same claims if they ran into someone on the street.

These athletes have so much more to lose than these fans because if they were to retaliate like Meta World Peace, they would be called all sorts of thugs and other names by the media. If I were in control, those fans would never step foot in those respective arenas for any event or would be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. My hope is that people go back to having respect for opposing athletes. 

Let’s just enjoy the game.

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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