The Marcus Smart Outrage: Taking Up for the Player
"There is such a thing as manners. A way of treating people. These fish have manners! They have manners." -- Jerry Maguire
Sometimes, fans are losers too.
It's times like Saturday when Oklahoma State point guard Marcus Smart probably wishes he had just cashed in his chips and been a top five pick in last year's NBA Draft.
In case you missed it (good luck), in the waning moments of Texas Tech's 65-61 upset of Oklahoma State in Lubbock on Saturday night, Smart fell down near the bottom of the baseline stands in United Spirit Arena after a hard foul on a Texas Tech player.
What happened next dominated Twitter, television, and casual conversation for the next 12 hours (which is about the normal shelf life for outrage in today's microwave popcorn society):
ESPN color analyst Tim Welch's disgust at the end of the clip was a de facto opening salvo for the flood of sanctimony that then rained down upon Marcus Smart. He should be suspended...how is he not removed from the arena....did we learn nothing from Ron Artest?
Marcus Smart was suspended for three games (three highly crucial games for the Cowboys, considering their season is spiralng out of control right now) for this shove, and for the sake of maintaining a future bar to where a player putting his hands on a fan remains strict taboo, I understand his being suspended.
But in life, there are words, and there are "fighting words," and in the unhinged heat of a game (especially one that a player is about to lose), when a player is hit with "fighting words," our personal bar of expectations for that player's self-restraint should be adjusted accordingly. And yes, by "fighting words," I mean things of a deeply personal or even racial nature.
At this point, if you don't agree there are such things as "fighting words," then you'll agree with nothing I say from here on out. If you do agree there are "fighting words," understand the following about the fan in question, a Waco man by the name of Jeff Orr:
1. Orr is considered a renowned Tech super fan, to the extent that he travels from Waco to Lubbock (oftentimes by car) for most of the Tech home games and many away games as well. The school's website even did a feature on him a few years ago. In the feature, Orr said of his infatuation with Tech sports: "This is my hobby. I don't hunt, fish, golf or any other normal guy activities. I just sort of follow the team around."
(Side Bar: As "super fans" go, I can't think of any who have experienced a more disproportionate amount of success versus miles traveled than a Texas Tech super fan living in Waco the last couple decades.)