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Boys behaving badly

Instapundit thinks there is a connection between the dodgy cover-ups in US public life such as Rathergate and the Sandy Berger affair, as detailed here, and the basketbrawl and its public implications as detailed here. For good measure, he invites us to call him crazy.

I do not think he is crazy, but he might be taking a short term view. As Jim Geraghty put it:

There’s one set of rules for regular folks, and another set of rules for celebrities, former high-ranking government officials, and other “important” people. If we break the rules, we pay the price. If a Dan Rather lies on the air, or Sandy Berger steals classified documents, there’s no consequence.

Well, yes. I would posit, though, that rich and powerful figures in society have always benefited from these sorts of shenanegans. There is nothing new there. What IS new is that thanks to the compressed news cycle and bloggers, whistleblowers and better education, is that people are much less willing to put up with it. Compared to the dodgy dealings of earlier times, Rathergate is small beer indeed. We are not talking Teapot Dome here.

That is not to say that we should not worry about this level of dishonesty. Dodgy dealings by those with public responsibilities should never be tolerated. But it is a positive sign that people are increasingly unwilling to tolerate illegal behavior from what is laughingly known in some quarters as the Great and the Good. (Maybe one day people will worry about the actual laws that get passed. I remain an optimist.)

Instapundit thinks there’s a connection between dodgy dealings and boys behaving badly, either playing or attending sport. I remain to be convinced. The actual fight in question seems to me to be a bit excessive, but hardly unprecedented. I have seen worse fights in Australian country football, and as for players and spectators interacting, well, after 25 years of watching cricket, I think I’ve seen it all before.

The shock that US bloggers seem to be in over the affair does suggest that it is new to American sports lovers though. But as a sportslover with a more global perspective, I would say that the behavior of sports fans (and indeed players) is probably somewhat improved, if you take a long term and global view.

But then, when it comes to the long term (longer then the next electoral cycle), I am a raging optimist. I think Professor Reynolds is wrong on this one.

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8 comments to Boys behaving badly

  • There was a famous fight in the stands during a National Hockey League (US) game years ago between the Boston Bruins and the New York Rangers. Not only did the players climb in to the stands (on ice skates no less), but one player famously beat a fan over the head with the fans own shoes. A classic sports moment.

    The only point worth mentioning behind the professors post is that there is a trend in US pro-sports where younger players are getting gobs more money than they used to. In sports such as Basketball, you had two gentlemen last year who at the ripe old age of 18 were signing contracts in excess of $100 million US. Can you expect an 18 year old to be the bastion of sanity when the world thinks that they are worth over $100 million because they can play a kids game? It was almost bound to happen.

    Either way, I think the whole issue has been blown about as far out of proportion as possible. Spoiled atheletes get excited and do something stupid. This is news, how?

  • And how come no one mentioned European soccer yet?

  • How about the South American soccer stadiums that look like fortresses? The Honduras-El Salvador “soccer war” would seem relevant, too. That said, something has to be done about Detroit. How about revoking their NBA franchise completely? Move it to Eastern Europe, where so many of the players now come from.

  • Of course, the irony of all this is that one of the players banned for beating the tar our of an opposing fan is about to release a rap album. (He even requested time off to promote it.) This brawl/riot will probably mean he really doesn’t need to do any promo for the album at all. I am sure his album will sell oodles.

  • failedromantic

    I happen to agree, Glenn Reynolds missed the boat on this one. The fight was an embarrassment no doubt. I heard Artest complaining about the fans “disrespecting” him. I thought respect was earned? Basketball players have no inherent right to respect. Their connection to reality seems tenuous at best. As for Rather, that really is small potatoes. Every American President since Eisenhower has looked the American electorate in the eye and lied like a rug.

  • Remember when you could buy Aussie Rules videos that consisted entirely of fights and hip-and-shoulder bumps?

    Aussie Rules is much cleaner these days, partly because the authorities cracked down, and partly because more (including much more money) is now at stake and suspensions are costly.

  • My cynicism was rewarded, last night I watched an interview with the chief thug in all of this and, wait for it, at the end of the interview he whipped out a copy of his rap CD & plugged it.