Time for a timeout

First Posted: 1/15/2009

Tommy Bowden, the head football coach at Clemson University, blames a fight on Saturday between his players and South Carolina's on the coverage of a similar incident during an NBA basketball game.
While Bowden was trying to deflect blame, he made a valid point - the excessive violence that television delivers into our homes has a numbing effect that tends to spawn more violence. In this instance, however, the violence wasn't “CSI,” it was reality TV - the repeated playing of members of the Indiana Pacers going into the stands to attack fans who had pelted one of their players, Ron Artest, with a drink.
We could fill this page and several more with our analysis of all the factors that have conspired to make ours a violent society. This weekend's events were the third in a week, following a near riot at the VIBE Awards, where a man was stabbed.
And we will not dismiss the fact that in all three instances, most of the combatants were young blacks. Too often these folks have traded upbringings in violent neighborhoods for a world stage and riches they are ill-prepared to handle.
The most disturbing event was what happened at Auburn Hills, Mich. NBA Commissioner David Stern acted swiftly, announcing that nine players had been suspended for a total of 143 games. We have heard apologists defend Artest by saying his life had been threatened. His life was not in danger, but had it been, the proper response would have been to flee the threat, not to confront it.
Stern clearly understands that the fans - the ones who provoked this incident were white by the way - are a part of the problem. We like two of the suggestions that we have heard, that the sale of alcoholic beverages be halted at some junction in the game - some Major League Baseball stadiums already do that - and that fans who misbehave risk banishment from the arena for the season or even life.
Stern has already demonstrated that he is willing to deal harshly with the offending players. But if that is all that is done, then only half the problem will have been addressed.

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