The commotion of the Marcus Smart/Jeff Orr set off emotions for me. If you will read the entirety of this story, I will try to show you my point:
In March of 2003 I was, and still am, a Culinary Arts instructor at a vocational college in South Georgia. As such I had a student on the school’s basketball team. I was proud and excited to see him play and tried to support him as if he were my own kid. The team was hosting the conference championship and stood a good chance to defeat the rivals for the first time ever to advance to the tournament. My student was starting and I was in attendance at a packed gym, sitting two rows behind the home team’s bench. My 5 year-old daughter was with me and she was off with her friends uninterested in the game.
My student jumped for the tip-off and was punched in the stomach. He retaliated and was called for a foul. On the inbound pass, he was elbowed in the eye, retaliated as his player was shooting, and was called for a foul. On the rebound for the free throw, he was elbowed in the eye again, retaliated and called for his third foul in 1 minute and 15 seconds in the game. I got angry and started to yell at the referee, "Can’t you see he’s taking elbows to the eye? His eye is swollen, dumbass!"
Evidently, the word ‘swollen’ is the signal for the PA and the crowd to mute because someone at that moment turned down the volume on the speakers and the 300 in attendance to let my ‘dumbass’ reverberate all across the gym. The referee standing in front of the home bench blew the whistle, pointed to me, and said, "You! Got to go!" As he was summoning security, people I worked with for several years, I left to go back to the hospitality room to watch the rest of the game.
To this day, I have the distinction of being the only fan tossed from a game at our school.
As I was sitting there with my feet up in the hospitality room, a co-worker escorted my 5 year-old daughter back to me. Tears were in her eyes. I gave her a hug and asked what was wrong. She said, "They told me you got arrested!" It was at that moment, I realized how stupid my actions were. I realized the only thing I accomplished was drawing attention to me and how my actions hurt others, mainly my 5 year-old. I assured her I was okay, but couldn’t leave the room. She went back to playing with her friends.
I spent the rest of the second half in reflection. A 35 year-old man behaving like a 16 year old kid. I still go to basketball games, and people wonder why I’m not as vocal as I used to be. I just smile and say nothing. But the real reason is I hurt someone who needed me by acting immature.
Some people will say Marcus Smart was wrong for shoving Jeff Orr. They are correct. Some will say the media blew this thing out of proportion. They are correct. Some will say Jeff Orr has a right to say whatever he said. They are correct. I will say just because you can say something to Marcus Smart, Mr. Orr, doesn’t mean you should. By opening your mouth to say anything negative to Mr. Smart, you created this controversy. Even if you didn’t embarrass yourself or those related to you, and I'm betting you did, you embarrassed this Texas Tech Alum.
I hope you will take this time off you self-imposed to reflect on this situation. I hope those reflections bring you to the realization that you can be a supporter of your team without causing embarrassment for others. I welcome you to sit with me on the bench of the ex-superfans. The games are still as exciting and the support is still as meaningful.
I’m sure many readers will have counterpoints to this. I wrote this to tell you my perspective. I was once like Jeff Orr. That mentality is stupid and as a father and a Texas Tech Alum, I say we should be above such behavior. It took me hurting my 5 year old daughter to realize it and I hope I never do it again.
Ed. Note: Edited to add paragraph breaks. Bumped to the front page. Thanks for the perspective. -- Seth C