Ok, this has to be one of the strangest days in sports history. First, the Pistons’ fans and Pacers get into it in a heated game. Then, to top it all off, a brawl broke out at the Clemson and South Carolina game. What is with these people?
In the first fight, it’s hard to blame anyone but Detroit’s fans. Yeah, I know Ron Artest will get blamed for the whole thing because nobody likes the guy, but look at what actually transpired. Ron Artest fouls Ben Wallace hard. Wallace shoves Artest. Artest walks away! Artest has had a few flagrant fouls in the past, so you know that the Pistons were trying to entice him into a fight. Then, Artest backs all the way up to the scorers table and lays down (I don’t get that, but he did it) and while laying down, a fan throws a cup at him and hits him. Artest takes off after the fan and the rest is history, so to speak. No, I don’t condone what Artest did, but I can understand. If you’re going to throw stuff at people, be prepared to defend your actions. Just because you’re a fan (and a stupid one, at that) does not shield you from consequences. I don’t agree with the commissioner’s indefinate suspensions of O’Neal and Jackson. They went in to get their teammate out of trouble and got cheapshotted over and over from drunk fans. Maybe he’s just waiting to watch the footage, but I’d bet they get as big of a suspension as Artest.
The second fight has a two-fold blame. The initial fight is completely the fault of the players. Have some respect for the people you are playing against! The brawl that ensued across the entire field is the fault of the security at the game. It was kind of amusing to see armed sherrifs and police officers trying to break up the brawl by jumping on guys twice their size who were wearing pads and swinging their helmets. Is there something wrong with this picture? I know this may sound fanatical, but if that were me, I’d pull my gun, fire a few shots in the air, and get the football players’ attention. Perhaps that wouldn’t have worked, but perhaps it would have woken them up.
What’s wrong? Who’s fault is it? I don’t know if it’s a question that’s easily answered. In the first case, alcohol had a major factor; this was seen earlier this year when fans got into it with the L.A. Dodgers and Texas Rangers. Are we suddenly coming to the realization that alcohol impairs judgement and that judgement is a good thing to have when dealing with people you don’t like (opposing players)? I don’t know if banning alcohol at games is the way to go. I mean, it might mean that people would go to a game to actually watch it rather than get drunk and create trouble. Who woulda thunk it?
In the second case, I think you need to train people to head things like that off before they get out of hand. Coaches need to let players know that if they go out on the field for something like that, they will be benched, no matter if you’re Joe Nobody or Joe Namath. Security also needs to know that if things get out of hand, they can give the refs a hand. I don’t have a definitive answer and I’m probably leaving things out, but from my vantage point that’s how I see it.