Aggressive NBA fan behavior diffused by sock puppets

image Like many of you, I’ve watched in utter disbelief as NBA fans have begun attacking players more frequently, often by throwing beverages. Whenever I see this, I can’t help but ask:

How can any self-respecting sports fan allow himself to be seen on national television, in front of millions of viewers, wasting a seven-dollar beer?

Somewhere along the way we’ve forgotten that sporting events are supposed to inspire the best in us — an ideal that professional athletes remind us can only be achieved through hard work, sacrifice and the purchase of sneakers so expensive they require short-term financing. It’s hard to know exactly why angry sports fans have gotten out of control, but in the words of Italian soccer star Fabio Perfecto, “I hope it never happens in my country.”

What is most disturbing, say sociologists, is that this type of behavior is now spreading to sports no one even cares about. For example, during the recent World Ping Pong Championships in Seattle, Wash., the only spectator at the event suddenly leaped from stands and, without warning, began hurling ping-pong balls at the visiting Chinese team. The situation intensified when the Chinese, brandishing their paddles, relentlessly backhanded enough balls into the assailant to render him unconscious.

Though some felt the Chinese response was excessive, investigators declined to issue any formal charges against the team since no player actually left his seat during the volley.

“It is our conclusion that the Chinese acted with proper restraint, given the fact that, had they wanted to, they could have killed their attacker in less than 10 seconds,” said a chief investigator.

Aggressive fan behavior has already prompted threats of a strike if security measures aren’t tightened before the start of next year’s Pro Bowling Tour. “We don’t intend to make the same mistake as other sports,” said a PBA spokesman. “The time to act is NOW, before we have spectators we don’t actually know.”

Psychiatrists argue the only way to reverse this trend is by teaching fans constructive ways to voice their disapproval. In a recent experiment conducted by the American Psychiatrists Association, spectators at an NBA game were issued sock puppets resembling Lebron James and told to “Sock it to Lebron” by telling the puppet how they felt.

“We all agreed it was a success when, at one point, there were literally 20,000 spectators in the stands yelling and screaming at sock puppets,” said one psychiatrist. “We also agreed never to do it again because, quite frankly, it was the creepiest thing we’d ever seen.”

In spite of promises from new NBA commissioner Adam Silver to protect athletes from unruly fans, “even if it means restricting alcohol consumption by raising the price of beer,” agents and union officials say it’s going to take more than promises to quell the anxiety many athletes now feel when stepping onto the court.

“Getting sucker-punched and shanked by a defender inside the key is just part of professional basketball,” said NBA union director Chris Paul. “But no athlete should be expected to go out, night after night, knowing he might get hit with an empty beer cup — or worse, a paternity suit.”

When asked to comment on talk of a potential strike if tighter security measures aren’t in place by the NBA championships, Paul called the rumors “laughable” and denied any plans to strike because of security issues.

“If we strike, it’ll be for more money,” said Paul. “Sadly, after paying for child support, defense attorneys and anger management classes, many athletes are dangerously close to making the league minimum of $1.3 million — which sounds like a lot, until you factor in the cost of tricking out a 16-seat Humvee.”

On a personal note, I plan to continue viewing professional sports from the safety of my own living room. The beer is cheap. The seats are more comfortable. And if I get angry, I have my own set of sock puppets.

(Ned Hickson is a syndicated columnist with News Media Corporation. His first book, Humor at the Speed of Life, is available from Port Hole Publications, or Barnes & Noble.)

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Ned's Blog

I was a journalist, humor columnist, writer and editor at Siuslaw News for 23 years. The next chapter in my own writer’s journey is helping other writers prepare their manuscript for the road ahead. I'm married to the perfect woman, have four great kids, and a tenuous grip on my sanity...

34 thoughts on “Aggressive NBA fan behavior diffused by sock puppets”

  1. Aaargh! You have inadvertently touched on one of my pet peeves – PEEVE WARNING!! OOGHA, OOGHA!. Sock puppets – no, wait, fan/athelete behaviour. I get them confused sometimes. I’m a kinda “big picture” guy – the 40,000 foot view type (once heard an actress interviewed who accidentally called herself a 40,000 mile type person – that’s a bit much: about 1/6 the way to the moon – hard to see much at all from there, but definitely where she belonged). In my view, a situation is a complex intertwining of the inputs of ALL involved and they affect and promote each other. Soooo, you start off with a sport where the players are typically self-serving, looking only for fame and money and are rewarded and reinforced for bad (and sometimes illegal) behaviour, abuse of others, hatred, narcissism, winning at all costs (even the maiming and deaths of others) and you introduce 10’s of thousands of fans present who look up to these idiots and millions who worship them remotely and you end up with violence both on and off the field. Gee, I wonder why? How could this possibly be? Quelle surprise! (that’s the Canadian in me – French translation required by the official language police.)After all, isn’t sport such a noble quest for honour, an admirable undertaking to bring out the best in all?,Riiiight – sans the millions and millions and millions of dollars : that may have changed the behaviour just a tiny bit.

    Sorry, I’ll stop there, Spewing obsenities is not my normal reaction to life – must be the association with professional sports – IT’S GETTING TO ME TOO! – AARGH! I’M becoming just like them! No,No, Don’t let It Happen! Save yourself Ned! It’s Too Late For Me!

      1. Thank you Ned for your understanding and offer of sock puppets. Ummm, are they bilingual? Customs may give them a hard time if not. If you come to Canada for a visit and find a customs officer with a sock-puppet assistant, you’ll know the sock puppets were intercepted – either that or the Border Security officers were denied their request for additional funding and were forced to improvise – our gov’t can be so cheap sometimes.

    1. That sounds like a simple solution to a complex problem. You have my full support. But please don’t sill your beer in the process. Because THEN we’ll have a problem, pal!

  2. This reminds me of a recent incident in Toronto where a local hockey team had played so badly for so long that some disgruntled fans neutered the team mascot–a 6.5-ft dog–to stop the insanity at this generation.

    In a sadly ironic twist, the dog died after being struck by the Zamboni because he couldn’t see past the cone fans had wrapped around his neck to keep him from licking his wounds.

  3. The visual of 20,000 sock puppets renders me unable to work for the rest of the day.
    Hopefully my boss understands that the effect of your humor on my productivity is not my fault. Loved it!

  4. I’m going to wait for the day where the basketball player whose arm is up the ass of the puppet gets into an argument with the inanimate object on the court. The argument heats up to the point where the athlete throws punches, the puppet bites back. Infuriated, the player wrestles the puppet to the ground. During the mess, the crowd cheers the athlete on, encouraging him to get more physical with the Fraggle. The anticipation turns into delusion, yielding blinded anger from the athlete, who decides to go all Ash/Evil Dead and cuts off his arm from the elbow down.

    No good can come of this. Puppets and sports can never mix well. Leave the puppets to the professionals: Jim Henson’s company.

    1. Imagine how much they could make if they endorsed sock puppets to wear with them. I’d probably buy those before I’d buy the shoes… not that I could afford either of them.

No one is watching, I swear...

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