If you like college basketball or haven’t been living under a rock during the past 72 hours, I’ll assume that you’ve seen at least some footage of Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart shoving a fan at Texas Tech.
It was a push that ignited a national firestorm. Yes, Smart was wrong for putting his hands on a spectator. But that spectator may or may not have said something so inflammatory that it served as the impetus to the entire incident.
No. 1 Arizona (23-1)
Returned to form against Oregon State
No. 2 San Diego State (21-1)
Closing the gap on the Wildcats
No. 3 New Mexico (18-4)
Only MW challenger to SDSU
No. 4 UCLA (18-5)
Faces the mountain schools this weekend
No. 5 Gonzaga (21-4)
Not special like last year, but still good
No. 6 Arizona State (18-6)
Monster matchup with Arizona on Friday
No. 7 Colorado (18-6)
Finding its footing sans Dinwiddie
No. 8 UNLV (16-8)
Making an NCAA Tournament run
No. 9 BYU (17-9)
Playing much better of late
No. 10 Stanford (15-7)
Has quality NCAA Tournament résumé
No. 11 California (15-8)
Loss to Stanford at home was big
No. 12 Utah (16-7)
Will Utes ever get a road win?
The Pac-12 should be taking the Big 12 to dinner, because Smart’s push heard ’round the country took a majority of the attention off Arizona State and its own fan incident that may have been even more ugly. At least in my eyes.
In ASU’s win over Oregon — a loss that sends the Ducks to 3-8 in the league — OU coaches said they were spat upon by members of the Arizona State student section. This occurred after the ASU section and Oregon guard Jason Calliste exchanged words. Included were allegations that Calliste — a senior transfer — threw a mock elbow at the fan he had the verbal altercation with.
Shoving someone is about as serious as you can get. Spitting on another human being ranks among the most vile acts. It’s simply disgusting and something one person should never do to another, under any circumstance.
Understandably, Oregon coach Dana Altman wasn’t a happy person in the moments following. He spoke publicly of a security issue at Arizona State, one where the school isn’t doing nearly enough to protect the opposing team as it enters and leaves the playing floor.
"Having us walk through the students on the way out, I’m not sure we have any place in the league that’s like that," Altman told the Portland Oregonian. "We were in a tough situation at the half, but that’s poor security. That’s not good. It’s not a good situation, and they need to address it. They can do whatever the heck they want, but that’s my opinion."
To Arizona State’s credit, the school identified the student and revoked his season credentials. OU assistant Brian Fish was asked if he wished to press charges and he declined. Still, the damage is done. In what has been a fascinating college basketball season nationally, this weekend serves as one of the bigger black eyes the sport has ever endured.
Fan/player interaction appears to be at an all-time low. You have grown men yelling awful things at people who are young enough to be their grandchildren. You have students crossing the line between fans and fanatics in a major way.
If not for Smart, the Pac-12 would have some explaining to do this week. I believe the Arizona State incident was that ugly. And it’s not the first time ASU has been known to cross a line. Almost three decades ago, the Sun Devils’ fan base mocked Steve Kerr, from rival Arizona, on the death of his father, not long after he was murdered.
It’s time for fans to be held accountable for bad behavior. Most of all, the accountability needs to come from within. It’s entirely possible to provide a home team with a big advantage without acting like a jerk in the process. Buying tickets doesn’t give a person the license to leave human decency at the door for two hours.
The players on the court are people too. With real feelings and emotions. It’s time for everyone to realize that, and act accordingly.
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