Recent Study Finds College Students Eschewing RockBand To Harass Basketball Players
You can probably file this under "Slow News Week," but it should be read anyway. The generally outstanding Grant Wahl at Sports Illustrated may have been gently nudged by his editor in the direction of penning this article on the especially vulgar fan behavior going on this year. Tyler Hansbrough, Kevin Love, Greg Paulus (who is using that hatred to form his new, swaggerific persona), Eric Gordon and that madness in UAB were all featured, with reaction from Love and Gordon's family who apparently needed security at the Oregon and Illinois games respectively.
As family members of targeted players feel the need to bring security guards to road games, and with schools such as Oregon and Illinois issuing apologies for the behavior of their fans, it's worth asking: How much is too much? "The abuse that fans are bringing day to day, whether it's on talk radio or in the stands, is going to ruin the game eventually," says Michigan State coach Tom Izzo. "I hate to say this because freedom of speech is at issue, but this isn't what freedom of speech is intended for."
(Yes Tom, fans are going to ruin the game.) It seems like this story was written a bunch of times during Redick's career and the reaction to the complaints of future millionaires playing basketball for free amidst a steady stream of commitment-less poon was met largely with tiny violins. I've never met someone who actually hated an opposing college player. They simply yelled things at them during games because they were drunk, shirtless, had painted their face and figured the only way to explain such behavior was the hatred of an 18-year old. And if you think college students drunkenly sending death threats to strangers is rare, well then you're not living in the right dorm. Most of those death threats were sent by kids who can't even pick a major, let alone end another human's life.
Buried deep within the article there is an actual newsworthy item however:
Ten years ago Gordon and Love probably would not have been subjected to such ugly scenes at Illinois and Oregon, not least because they might not have attended college at all. But the NBA's age-minimum rule began requiring players to spend at least one season in college ball starting in 2006-07, a change that has coincided with the skyrocketing increase in media coverage of recruiting. In basketball, much more than in football, the decision of one 18-year-old can change the fortunes of a team almost immediately. (Would Illinois be 11-17, for example, if Gordon had gone to Champaign? Not likely.) What's more, the popularity of social-networking websites such as Facebook and MySpace has made college athletes and their personal information far more accessible to the public, especially if the athletes are naive when it comes to, say, posting compromising photos of themselves or accepting friend requests from strangers.
OK, this is valid I suppose. The general stalking culture of our Facebook generation can be applied both terrifyingly and hilariously to collegiate athletics. And I suppose the ability for rival fans to intermingle with a player's close social network can be problematic and infringes on a player's right to be a regular college kid (although dedicating your youth to basketball probably accomplishes this well enough). But, as we learn from the article Hansbrough and Paulus have, you can simply get off Facebook. And if you continue to use it, at least have the common sense to post some shit that people will never be able to hate you for. Maybe something like this:
You simply cannot threaten to kill someone who attends parties that do not require pants.