Athlete Fan Interactions

Yesterday Oklahoma State guard Marcus Smart made the regrettable decision of pushing a fan in the midst of the Cowboys 65-61 loss to unranked Texas Tech. The incident came with just 6.2 seconds remaining in the game, when Smart’s momentum  carried him into the second row of the stands following a fast break foul. After Smart was helped to his feet, a fan made a comment enticing the two handed shove.Smart was immediately restrained by his teammates but continued to jaw with the fan as he was carried off. Smart was assessed a technical foul but was curiously not ejected from the game.

After reviewing the incident, the Big 12 conference has slapped Smart with a three game suspension to be served immediately.  While Smart is obviously in the wrong and was deservedly punished, what can be said for the fan in the stands. Smart claims that the fan called him the degrading “n word” directly to his face which is why he reacted the way he did. The fan, who has been identified as Jeff Orr, is a Texas Tech season ticket holder who has been involved with past interactions with players (see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i0NdJahHN0w).

Since when does paying money to enter a game give you the right to verbally abuse and degrade a fellow human being? The time has come that we start holding fans to the same accountability that we expect from our athletes. We tend to forget that college athletes are still impressionable and emotional young adults and not professionals. At the end of the day Smart, a 19 year old sophomore, made a brash judgement in the heat of the moment. He has been granted the opportunity to learn from this and become a better human and player should he chose to take advantage of it. 

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