Miscellaneous Musing by Judy @ 11:11 AM

I usually don’t comment on sports, because I’m not much of a sports fan. The sporting events I like are ones that aren’t usually shown on national TV.

OK. That came out wrong…

The sporting events I like to watch are ones like curling and 3-day eventing (that’s equestrian) that have a limited viewership and are, therefore, usually not broadcast nationally. Of the “big three” American games — baseball, basketball and football — I prefer the first two because they are non-contact sports. Watching two lines of burly men attempt to inflict the maximum amount of damage on each other while moving a pigskin-covered, squashed-out-of-shape “ball” for 10 yards at a whack during “minutes” that last for hours just doesn’t turn me on.

After this weekend, it appears I’m down to baseball.

It’s true that I did not watch Friday’s Indiana/Detroit game. But I’ve watched the end of it several times. You can see it yourself here. The “interesting” part of the game started when Ron Artest fouled Ben Wallace hard from behind. Wallace then shoved Artest. This was followed by what is being called a “typical team fracas,” with the players of both teams shoving and throwing punches while officials tried to restore order. Artest stayed out of most of it, choosing instead to lie on the scorer’s table. (Is this usual behavior? Why didn’t he go to the now-empty bench if he wanted to lie down? Regular viewers will have to answer that question for me.) [ed. 11/22/04 2:50 pm My friends who are regular basketball watchers, when asked why Artest found it necessary to recline on the scorer’s table, replied, “To show how much of an asshole he is.” Uh… OK. I guess that’s why the cup-throwing fan was pissed.]

A fan tossed a cup (variously described as containing ice and/or beverage – it looked to me like beer) at Artest, hitting him in the chest. Artest responded by storming into the stands, leaping over the seats, cold-cocking fans as he went. The fans responded by throwing punches themselves. Other players joined the melee in the stands, some hitting fans and some trying to break the fight up. Security personnel and ushers managed to get the players back on the court. Some of the fans followed them down. A man shouted at Artest, and Artest slugged him. When the man got back up, former Blazer Jermaine O’Neal knocked him down again. Another former Blazer bad-boy, Detroit player Rasheed Wallace, actually tried to break up the fights.

Both teams finally left the court, under a hail of beverages, popcorn, cups, clothing and even a chair. Players were injured. Fans were injured. Children were in tears. The game was called. Oh, yeah… it was real exciting! NOT

What has amazed me is where many of the sports reporters I have heard and read since place the blame. Ben Wallace is blamed for starting the first go-round. He “overreacted” to what is described as “not an excessive” foul. Artest cannot be held accountable for his actions. He never would have come unglued if that fan hadn’t thrown a cup at him. So the fans are to blame for the whole business.

What unmitigated bullshit.

In a non-contact sport, any deliberate foul is excessive. I saw Artest foul Wallace. It wasn’t a tap on the shoulder. Should Artest have fouled Wallace? No. That’s not OK in basketball. Should Wallace have reacted? No. He should have left it up to the officials. Should the player have left their benches to shove each other around the court? No. They should have allowed the game to continue. Should Artest have laid down on the scorer’s table? I’m saying no. That seems weird to me. Should the fan have thrown a cup at Artest? No. What ever happened to common courtesy? Fans should not be out of control any more than players should. Should Artest have left the court and jumped into the stands to whack a fan or two? No. Jumping into the stand is a no-no. Whacking fans is battery and is against the law. Should fans have thrown popcorn and beer on the retreating players? No. It’s a waste of possibly good popcorn and probably bad beer (I’m a microbrew fan), and see the above note regarding common courtesy.

The NBA Commissioner has suspended Artest for the rest of the season. Stephen Jackson has been suspended for 30 games and Jermaine O’Neal for 25. Ben Wallace drew a 6-game suspension and Anthony Jackson got 5 games. Reggie Miller, Chauncey Billups, Elden Campbell and Derrick Coleman will be out one game apiece. All suspensions are without pay.

The players union claims that the penalties are “unduly harsh” and has vowed to appeal (and will probably get reduced suspensions for most players). O’Neal’s agent claims that the league singled him out for punishment without taking into consideration the fear he was feeling for his own safety. (Yeah… right…) Artest has released a contrite little statement that also questions the length of his suspension. (Guess he’ll have time now for his rap music, though.)

Mama always told me that two wrongs don’t make a right, but might make you left. And if that applies to two, then surly a dozen wrongs don’t add up to OK. Mama also told me that you have to take responsibility for your actions and be prepared to suffer the consequences if you choose to act badly. Considering their suspensions will cost Artest about $5 million and O’Neal some $3.7 million, this is a fairly expensive lesson. Judging from the reaction, it is one that neither the players nor the league seem inclined to learn.

Do I think the penalties are unduly harsh? No way. I think all of them, players and fans alike, should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. I think that any player who threw a punch, either at a fan or at another player, should be fired. Season ticket holders who threw objects of any kind at the players should lose their season tickets forever. But I also think that trying to place “blame” on any one group is both moot and an exercise in futility. The root causes are much more complex than that.

I think it’s time to clean house and make basketball safe family entertainment again.

News Of The Weird by Judy @ 6:44 AM

This month’s award goes to three would-be thieves in Australia unable to open the door of the restaurant they wanted to rob.

The restaurant, about 85 miles south of Syndey in the coastal town of Gerringong, boasts a sliding glass door. The robbers were wearing balaclavas — those ski masks that cover most of one’s face. Whether the balaclavas blocked their vision or whether they were simply too stupid to read, the thieves apparently didn’t see the sign that said slide. They tried to push the door open. When that failed they tried to kick the industrial-strength glass door down. Still unsuccessful, they ran off, leaving their bootprints on the door.

About 20 diners remained calm and enjoyed their dessert and coffee while watching the show. The diners were treated to free bottles of wine after the event.

The police believe they have located the stolen car used by the robbers during the non-heist. Quoth police investigator Jamie Williams:

They’re probably more dangerous because they’re dumb.

I dunno. It sort of reminds me of all of those times I’ve pushed when the sign said pull or vice-versa. But I don’t usually try to kick the door down when my first attempt fails.

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