NBA, NFL, MLB and NHL games continue to devolve into a visit to your local zoo.
About the only difference is patrons attending a sporting event don’t actually try to feed the attraction.
Fans point, and talk at, players much the same way a youngster may point at the alligator, elephant or adorable red deer.
What would any of us do if the alligator understood what we are saying, and decided to come out of his pool for a quick chat because you said he was ugly, dumb, fat and bad at his job?
At least the little kid who points, and makes fun of the alligator, is innocent; the average fan at a sporting event has no such excuse. Drunk doesn’t count.
Too many fans behave at games as if they are typing on a social media app, hiding behind its infinite veil of protection knowing they’ll never face that person.
“We are not some circus animals to where we get stuff thrown at us, and got talked down upon, and we have sit and tuck our tails and walk away,” former NBA All-Star Mike Bibby said on Monday morning in a phone interview .
Bibby is currently in the area coaching college players at the NTX International Basketball Combine in Frisco.
Bibby was the second overall pick in the 1998 NBA Draft and played in the league until 2012.
“We are men first before this basketball,” he said. “The guys who are coming at players and stuff have to realize there may be consequences for doing that.”
On Sunday afternoon at American Airlines Center in Dallas, a fan reportedly touched the mother of Phoenix Suns All-Star point guard Chris Paul during the Suns/Mavericks playoff game in such a manner that it wasn’t a benign bump.
On Monday afternoon, the Mavericks issued the following statement: “American Airlines Center and Dallas Mavericks security and executives have concluded the investigation into the incident involving the Paul family.
“Two unruly fans attempted to give unwanted hugs and have conversations with members of the Paul family on the public concourse of American Airlines Center. AAC security immediately responded once notified by the family and the fans were swiftly ejected from the game. The fans involved in the incident will not be allowed to return to the arena until 2023.”
A viral video circulating caught Paul saying to the young fan, “I’ll see you later.” Paul was held back by members of the Suns’ staff as he said it.
Paul was not inviting the young man for two scoops of ice cream.
According to a report by ESPN, Paul’s mother and his wife along with the couple’s two children attended the game and sat near the Suns bench. On Mother’s Day, no less.
Per ESPN, his mother had “hands put on her and his wife was pushed, a source familiar with the situation told ESPN, and Paul’s kids were there to witness it.”
Bibby brought up one point about this incident that should not be overlooked.
“I doubt somebody would have done this to Chris Paul’s dad, or Chris Paul’s brother,” he said.
“Being women (the fan) felt that women wouldn’t do anything back, and they can kinda bully them a little bit,” Bibby said.
It’s not right, and Bibby is 45 million percent correct.
Stupid, or drunk, behavior by fans at sporting events is not new. Our ability to see clips of all of the behavior in real time is relatively new.
Trash talking and degrading opposing players is part of the fabric of attending a sporting event. There is a line, and all too often fans cross it for no reason because we forget there is a person under that uniform, and often superhuman frame.
Or fans forget because they paid a lot of money for their ticket, and they think it enables them to say things they should not.
Or, they’re just stupid people. The world is loaded with them.
All players, from every generation, know before they play a game they are going to “hear it” in certain buildings. Some more than others.
The Boston Garden. Allen Fieldhouse. Cameron Indoor Stadium. Arrowhead Stadium. Madison Square Garden. A Saturday night NHL game in Edmonton.
And the playoffs bring a heightened sense of … well, everything.
Those are all an important, often wonderful, part of sports.
An NBA game, or any sporting event, should never be confused for a trip to the zoo.
The players aren’t alligators.
Yell at ’em. Boo ’em. There is a line. Just stand behind it.
And keep your hands to yourself.