Stop crimes on the field

By now, everybody in the country has to be aware of the one dark cloud that has been hanging over the sporting world in the last few weeks. Few people have not witnessed the fights that occurred either in the Indiana-Detroit NBA game or the Clemson-South Carolina college football game.

Fingers are being pointed in every single direction, and people are trying to figure out why? Why would a professional athlete (or several players, as in the Indiana case) attack a fan? How could those college players get so out of hand and attack each other?

There are no good answers, nor are there any good excuses. Even the NBA crew on ESPN after the event happened was being apologetic towards Ron Artest, saying he had the right to attack the fan after having a drink thrown at him. What the commentators neglected to point out was Artest attacked the wrong guy.

While no athlete should ever feel that their life is in danger while playing a game, they have to act in a professional manner. There was a big difference in what Artest did and what his teammate, Jermaine O’Neal, did. Artest knew he would draw attention to himself by getting on the scorer’s table while his scuffle with Ben Wallace was trying to be calmed down. He got a little more extreme response than what he probably thought, but his going into the stands afterwards is inexcusable.

Jermaine O’Neal attacked fans that made their way on to the court. Those fans might have got what they deserved by crossing an invisible boundary.

The penalties after the attacks were severe, and in some cases unjust. Artest missing the whole season is a message towards all the other players, and while harsh, it is understandable. O’Neal’s suspension may be too harsh for a player attacking a fan on the court.

The one Pacer who got off easy was Stephen Jackson. Jackson was not mentioned earlier because unlike Artest he was not provoked, and unlike O’Neal his actions didn’t occur on the court. Jackson just went off like a wild man into the stands, and was given a suspension somewhere in between Artest’s and O’Neal’s. Jackson appeared to be the true lunatic but does not have a reputation as bad as Artest’s, so he got off with a lesser penalty.

The level of insanity in the college football game was a little bit more of a contained violence. It was player versus player and did not spill out into the stands, nor were any innocent bystanders hurt, but the behavior was no less reprehensible.

The level of violence, the circumstances and the people involved were different. The one thing these unfortunate instances do have in common is severe consequences. The NBA players are suspended and the college players cannot play in their scheduled bowl games.

The NBA and NCAA have seen the need to stop these situations as soon as possible. Hopefully, with governing bodies enforcing harsher penalties, we will see a reduction in this type of behavior.