Shatel: Rules of civility should be in play for fans at games - Omaha.com
Published Tuesday, February 11, 2014 at 12:00 am / Updated at 2:10 pm
FIRST DOWNS AND SECOND GUESSES
Shatel: Rules of civility should be in play for fans at games

Here at Press Box Buffet Arena, on the campus of Oscar Madison University, I run the joint. And I have a few simple rules.

1. You have the right to cheer for your team. 2. You have the right to be respectful and applaud good effort. 3. You have the right to complain about the price of nachos and 16-ounce pops. You do not have the right to interfere with or stick your nose into the field of play.

I saw the Marcus Smart/Texas Tech incident the other night, and all the replays, and all I could think about was: What the heck is wrong with people?

When did we become so angry? When did we become so courageous? The few times I've sat close enough to the field or court and brushed up to an athlete, I never would have imagined talking to one, much less calling them a “piece of crap.”

And since when is that phrase OK because it wasn't something else?

And why would a middle-aged man even say that to a 19-year-old?

Especially after Marcus Smart just hustled down court to block a shot at a big moment in the game? If you're a fan, you need to be applauding that effort.

Look, I'm not here to do a sociological breakdown of the 21st century sports fan. It sure seems like some people use sporting events more as a release for their anger and frustration than as an escape to be entertained, but that's neither here nor there.

And while social media outlets like Twitter aren't the devil, they certainly empower fans to think they are covering the story — and in some cases are the story.

What I'm here to propose are stricter rules. It is not a right to attend a sporting event. If you do not abide by simple rules — common rules of civility — you can have your privileges revoked.

Put it this way: Fans who provoke a player or coach into doing something that affects the game should be penalized just as if they ran onto the field. And that usually buys you a set of handcuffs.

Smart was in the wrong and he's going to pay the price. But so should the fan on the other end. Heat of the battle goes both ways. So should the penalty.

» Now, once and for all, get off my lawn.

» Creighton coaches were hoping the long layoff would help prevent another February swoon. What it couldn't stop was the defensive effort by St. John's. That was big time. Can other teams in the Big East do that? Not many. Just remember, Jays, when you walk into Hinkle Fieldhouse on Thursday, measure the distance from the court to the hoop. It should be 10 feet.

» Funny, I don't remember hearing the word “length” that much when the Jays were in the Missouri Valley. What is this new concept?

» Why were the Jays smiling on their way home? They bumped into Bono, the iconic singer for U2, at Teterboro Airport, a private airport in New Jersey just 12 miles from midtown Manhattan. Props to director of operations Jeff Vanderloo for approaching the singer, who is an acquaintance of Warren Buffett. Maybe they can get Bono to sing the national anthem at senior night.

» Is Michael Sam going to be the Jackie Robinson of football? That's not a bad comparison. We'll see. Sam's road to and through the NFL won't be easy. The NFL office will welcome Sam, but several locker rooms won't. He'll have to get drafted by a strong coach with a strong locker room and leadership. Somewhere like New England. Or Seattle.

» I applaud Sam's decision, bravery and certainly the fact that he's a Missouri grad.

» With a win over Illinois on Wednesday night, Nebraska can equal last season's conference win total of five. There's a loftier goal out there, and I'm not talking about postseason. The last time Husker Hoops won more than eight conference games was the 1998-99 season, when Danny Nee and Venson Hamilton went 10-6 in the Big 12 — which was good for a tie for fifth in the league and an NIT bid.

Put together nine or 10 wins in the Big Ten, and you're cozying up to NCAA bubble territory. Then you can try to win a couple in the Big Ten tourney and figure out what it all means.

Better beat Illinois first.

» Certainly there are smart people in the world of college athletics who can get Sami Spenner into the Division I track and field championships. This isn't about finances or even an athletic department that's adjusting over time. It's about a world-class athlete who's ready for the national stage. This seems like a no-brainer of a special case.

» According to the Grand Forks (N.D.) Herald, Dean Blais got his ejection on Saturday night because he refused to send a player to the penalty box after a third straight penalty on the Mavs. Sometimes a coach will get himself run to make a statement or get his team fired up. In this case, UNO assistant Troy Jutting said it inspired the Mavs to an intense, high-scoring win.

The Herald reported that Blais watched the game from the Ralph Engelstad Zamboni Room, where Blais used to hang out and play pinochle when he coached North Dakota.

» A sandwich with a layer of Fritos chips? Subway is becoming a place where I could eat.

» Read the New York papers on Monday and they weren't hard on Doug McDermott. Not that they should have been, but you never know with New York. Apparently the St. John's fans chanted “overrated” toward the end of the game. I never get that. Why would you diminish your accomplishment?

» I attended a “Welcome DePaul” reception last Friday night, hosted by Ted Baer, at the Hilton across from the CenturyLink Center. There were a lot of compliments from DePaul folks, and it was another example of the good fit that Creighton seems to be in the Big East.

Among the DePaul guests was former Blue Demon Dave Corzine, who also had a long NBA career. On the big screen, they showed a replay of the DePaul-Creighton game in the 1978 NCAA tournament at, of all places, Wichita's Koch Arena. DePaul came back from way down to win that one, 80-78.

Later, Corzine spoke and had the line of the night: “They used to call me the Lumberjack, so when I heard tonight was Lumberjack Night, I thought it was for me. Guess not.”

» One more and I'm outta here: Another day, another lunch. Please join me at the Omaha Press Club today at noon for the Shatel Sports Series, where the main speaker will be ... me. I can promise you sports opinions. Not sure about Fritos.

Contact the writer: Tom Shatel

tom.shatel@owh.com    |   402-444-1025    |  

Tom Shatel is a sports columnist who covers the city, regional and state scene.

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