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For what little it’s worth…

I firmly believe the… disgusting? distressing? … brawl that complete last night’s Pacers/Pistons game is a symptom of living in George Bush’s America.

America is increasingly a country predicated on fear, hate, and demonizing “the other” (whatever that other is). I wholly expect to see such senseless conflagrations erupt with shocking frequency throughout this land of ours. People are so on edge, so distraught, that it doesn’t take much of a spark to light the psychic kindling.

  1. C’mon. Sports has been building up towards this for the last couple of decades, Peter. Players used to just take the abuse and not deal with it, but the last decade or so, with increased TV coverage, has made sports into a culture of machismo. Artest would’ve been denigrated, not lauded, if he’d simply laid down and taken the thrown cup and said, “No, it’s not worth it.”

    Add into fans wanting their 15 minutes of fame …

  2. I have to agree with Geof — I suspect you’re generalizing a bit much from a 10-man game to a nation of 270 million. I haven’t played basketball in 20 years but have played other competitive team sports; getting angry at fouls or bad calls is just part of the game, never mind any political context. And every time I hear the phrase “George Bush’s America” I can’t help but think that the writer ignores that this is his or her America too.

  3. I totally agree with the sentiment behind your post Peter. You’ll never convince anyone of this however, because it’s not the kind of thing that changes obviously over a period of 4 years. More like 50-100 years. But we have a choice to move towards being a country that encourages, or discourages violent behavior, and I think with Bush in office we are moving slowly in the wrong direction. Sports are a bad example because you can point to disgusting brawls that have occurred during every presidency since the NBA was formed.

    But you are absolutely right that we are “increasingly a country predicated on fear, hate, and demonizing”. Carl’s comment that “you can have your say again in 4 years” is a perfect example of conservatives unwillingness to embrace other viewpoints. It’s a mindless parroting of Bush’s own brilliant remark that his administration “will reach out to those that share our views.” Unfortunately, Peter, your own post sounds like you are demonizing “the other” as well. I totally agree with you, but it’s not a language that unites. Until we can reach out in a positive way we’ll continue to be a divided nation.

    And yes, we are divided down the middle- I don’t know in what other context 4 percentage points would be considered a “nice margin.” In basketball that would be usually be considered a nail biter.

  4. We are divided down the middle because a majority-rule system provides no incentive to appeal to anyone beyond the middle — that’s what _I_ take away from Carl’s comment. I sure didn’t think “oh, Carl is clearly a conservative.”

    Frankly, I think a big part of the problem is the assumption that only a conservative, who is on “the other side”, would make such a statement as Carl’s. Seems that we are all unwilling to embrace viewpoints that we disagree with — but look how quickly the demonization creeps in.

  5. Alcohol + Testosterone + Stupidity = Brawl. After reading some background on both John Green (aka “the man in the white hat”) and Ron Artest, it is no surprise that these cretins ended in up in a fight. Add to this the media’s obsession with sensational outbursts and it may seem that things are ready to blow when, in fact, sports have always been this violent and idiotic.

  6. Clearly, Peter, you believe in the truism that the test of a man’s intelligence is the degree to which he agrees with you.

    Let me pass along something: Gregg Easterbrook on donnybrooks at games:

    In their 2001 book Sports Fans: The Psychological and Social Impact of Spectators, four academic psychologists reviewed the technical literature and found that incidence of violent behavior at American sports events is no greater than in society as a whole. The researchers concluded that the chance of a fight breaking out during a game is just about exactly the same as the chance of a fight breaking out at any moment in daily life.

    In recent years in the United Kingdom, Denmark, Belgium, South Korea, Russia and elsewhere, spectators have died during soccer matches; the global soccer-riot death toll is several hundred in recent decades. Deaths of spectators from fighting at United States sporting events are all but unknown in the same period. (In 2000, a Massachusetts father was beaten to death at a youth hockey practice by another father after their sons argued on the ice; the second man was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and is now in prison.) Serious fighting is so rare at American sporting events because spectators are, by and large, an orderly group. The cliché is that football games, especially, are attended by mobs of drunken testosterone-pumped ruffians spoiling to brawl. The reality is that the occasional off-color chant is the worst it gets at 99.9 percent of American football contests. In Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer , his new book about football fan mania, Warren St. John writes, “I’ve been going to football games since I was six, and I’ve never seen anything beyond a fistfight or the occasional fraternity scrum.”

    If George W. Bush’s America is so bad about this, then where are the Europeans—who are seemingly more worldly than we, yet are the nations are where people die in these scrums?

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