Oklahoma State basketball player Marcus Smart finds himself in hot water these days. Towards the end of a game against at Texas Tech, Smart took a fall on the court and tumbled into the stands. A frequent and long-time Red Raider fan, one Jeff Orr, said something to Smart as he was getting back to his feet. Smart then gave the spectator a rough two-handed shove.
The Big 12 Conference quickly acted and handed down a 3 game suspension to Smart. But that's not nearly harsh enough punishment for what he did.
Smart's team was losing, he was caught up in the heat of the game, thought he was verbally dissed by an opposing fan, and it was only a shove, you say? I say horse manure. Smart was way, WAY, out of line.
Orr would later apologize himself, but insisted he merely called Smart "a piece of crap" and used no racial slur. Thing is, it doesn't matter what Orr said. He was a spectator, used only words, and there is no excuse -- NONE -- for an athlete to ever physically assault a fan, especially when that fan is in the stands in the assigned area he paid big bucks to sit/stand in.
Hey. What would happen if a fan ran onto the court and attempted to assault a player? If he survived the beatdown he'd likely get from the other players, he'd be hauled off by security, taken to a room to be interrogated, possibly be prosecuted, and likely banned for life from that particular venue.
Whether it's a basketball court, football/baseball field, golf course, tennis court -- you name it -- it's a big time no-no for any fan to set foot in the areas where the athletes actually play the game. So why shouldn't the same rules apply to the players when it comes to spectators? After all, they paid to be there and have a right to cheer, boo, or even get verbal as they see fit. It's only words and noise. A player has no more right to invade their space, much less get physical, than fans have the other way around.
Consider another way of looking at what Smart did to Orr. If a man were to shove a woman like that in a public place -- he's getting arrested and going to jail for assault and battery. But because Marcus Smart is an athlete -- somehow the same rules don't seem to apply. And that's wrong. A 3 game suspension is a joke and, a month from now, everything will blow over and it will be like it never happened. And that's a double standard as well. In real life, that sort of behavior would get one a court date resulting in fines, probation, mandatory anger management classes, and one might even have to blow and drop for a while to prove they remain substance free, even if one was totally sober and clean at the time of the incident. Is all that fair or right? Probably not, but that's how it seems to work these days for the average Joe that lost his temper for a second, but didn't really hurt anybody.
The incredible irony is that home-town fan Orr has agreed not to go to any more Texas Tech games this year. And he did nothing wrong in the first place. Meanwhile, Smart will be back playing for Okla St. in a little over a week, wherever their schedule takes them. How mind-numbingly bass-ackwards is that?
If anything, Texas Tech should have given Orr lifetime free season tickets for the abuse he suffered while at their venue.
And for his actions, Smart should be the one banned from playing for at least the rest of the season, while feeling fortunate he's a player and not an average citizen, or things would be different in his life right about now.