Okay, I've heard representatives from the NBA invoke the war in Iraq as some kind of excuse for the players' behavior, and I've heard it more than once. What a fucking crock. Take your head out of your ass and acknowledge the problem.
Speaking as a sports fan, I fully acknowledge that with the possible exception of Pat Tillman, most sports figures are greedy bastards. And I'm fine with that. Hey, as long as we are willing to pay ridiculous prices for tickets, memorabilia, cable packages, etc., get all you can. But the NBA players in particular have been busy cementing their carefully cultivated image as overpaid crybabies with this idea that somehow the punishment for the other evening's brawl is too much. Why is this story even news?? I'm almost ashamed to be writing about it.
Here's the thing: you make a lot of money for doing something that most people think of as 'fun.' People look up to you. Children model themselves after you. For right or wrong, sports figures like yourselves provide an (unrealistic) expectation for many of our nation's youth--"I don't need an education or training; I'm gonna play pro ball." If after all that...after all that money and glory and fame, you can't control yourself and set an example? Then I say "fuck you." I hope the next guy in the stands picks up a chair and ends your career.
And you're lucky I'm not in charge of disciplinary action because here's my view. I don't care who started it, I don't care who said what to whom, if you swing on a spectator, if you go into the crowd, your career in professional sports is over. Done. Hope you managed to keep from spending at least some of that bonus on drugs and whores.
Who knows? Maybe I'm just bitter. I mean, I love sports, I do. They're our "bread and circuses," no? I mean, let's face it--it's hard to remember how sucky your own life is when your team is facing a third and goal with 10 seconds left and a four point deficit. But I do think that what I do, and what my colleagues do, is more important. We also face pressure and thanklessness from bosses, parents, and students. And yet, I don't know that any of us have ever felt it necessary to throw down with a grade-obsessed father. But hell, we don't get paid as much either. Come to think of it, no one has ever asked me to nationally televise one of my three-hour classes. Nor has Budweiser agreed to provide computers or other learning equipment for a thirty-second advertisement spot midway through the class.
Playing professional sports in the U.S. is a pretty nice way to earn a living, and comes with a lot of privilege, but also a lot of responsibility. Guys like Ron Artest, and those who would mimic his behavior need to be reminded of that.