Thursday, May 16, 2013

Sportsmanship - "Basketball Jones"

Okay, I'm airing a grievance. Mostly because I don't have another brilliant idea for my blog today and this is something that annoyed me.

I'm a sports fan. I participated in sports when I was younger, and I still do occasionally  The sport du jour is basketball. I'm a fair weather Bulls fan. That weather this year has been partly sunny/partly cloudy. As such, I have not been watching every game, up to and including the playoffs. And now for the rant.

Basketball is a non contact sport. But I guess someone forgot to tell the NBA. I do NOT like watching the Indiana Thugs -er, Pacers for this very reason. Where the game calls for quickness and skill, they substitute body blocks and fouls. Granted, each player is allowed six cheap shots per game, but Indiana has players whose main goal is to foul the other team.  Not score, not block shots, but foul.

(Steve Mitchell/USA Today)
My Bulls gutted it out to the second round of the playoffs, where the Miami Heat were given free license to mug and abuse them. If that isn't enough, the fans have taken to abusing the athletes, too. That's just wrong. I'm not saying the Bulls are completely blameless, but certainly the referees are more willing to turn a blind eye to premier players who, rather than dazzling us with their brilliant play, have stooped to schoolyard mugging. And the fans support this by flipping off Joakim Noah for refusing to be mugged.

I watch professional sports to see professionalism. I understand physical play, but don't want to watch an athlete who is consistently a step short make up for it by being a brute. Take it like a man. If you're beaten, step up your own game. And then to have this behavior reinforced by classless fans lowers the level of this spectator sport one more rung.

Do you know how much they charge for seats to see the Bulls in Chicago? (A lot, in case you don't know the answer - I happen to know tickets are considerably cheaper in Milwaukee.) And they pack the stadium. But I have no interest in paying those prices for an exhibition in taking cheap shots from someone who can't keep up. The NBA needs to school the referees on calling the same fouls on all players, regardless of their "star" status.

Don't get me wrong, I admire LeBron's skills. The Heat has skill. That's one of the reasons I don't understand when they stoop so low. Play the game and stop the brawling.  The Heat plays the Thugs next. May the best team survive.

There.  I feel better now.

Kudos to the Bulls for their grit this season. Short handed, injured and then abused, they put on a good show.

And now back to our regularly scheduled program . . .


  1. I quite often think that our love affair with "sports teams" has gotten out of hand. Anything seems to go now days, including punching someone out, coaches yelling cruel words, players fighting on the field/court. Whatever has happened to good sportsmanship? I'm seeing less and less of it in all forms of sports!

    1. My point exactly. While I realize that professional athletes have a shorter career than, say, a teacher, the amount of money they command is obscene. Who is it that really shapes our children's lives? I can name dozens of teachers who would love to be able to make millions of dollars for a ten-year (maybe twenty-year) career shaping a child's future. Yes, this is one of my hot buttons.