Too many college-game audiences love to chant the fuller form of "B.S." at referees, and when the game is nationally televised, all of America has to put up with the profanities roared. Earlier this year, a pile of University of Maryland supporters showed up in "F--- Duke" T-shirts. Sauced-up fans in the stands greeted Duke's J.J. Redick at the free-throw line with loud chants of "F--- you." Many of these offenders are the college's own students. You'd think that university staff and alumni alike would discourage this kind of incivility. It hardly builds the image of a university as a place for high-minded civility and dispassionate learning.
For its part, the NBA tried -- finally -- to send a message over the Pacer-Piston brawl. It might seem late after tolerating the Dennis Rodmans and Latrell Sprewells, but Ron Artest was banned for the season, and other players were also suspended without pay. The fans involved are also beginning to get punished for their role in the stupidity epidemic. These are good steps, although talk radio stations are blazing with callers who wanted Artest banned for life from the NBA. You can't get punishments harsh enough for many people, demonstrating the depth of public disgust for how low our athletic culture has sunk.
Despite the punishments, the damage has already been done, incident by incident, obscenity by obscenity, gangster athlete by gangster athlete. It's bad enough that it requires several hundred dollars to take the family out to a professional sports event. You're also stuck with the knowledge that your hard-earned cash is part of the reason the pro athletes behave like idiots. The high ticket prices give fans a greater sense of entitlement to scream and curse and taunt.
In the old days, Americans looked down their noses at foreign sports fans and their ridiculous behavior, causing melees and riots at soccer games. Today, we are the ones who are sinking in our seats and hiding our faces at what our fellow Americans consider a fine night at the stadium. It's enough to make one considering singing "keep me out of the ballgame."
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