Marcus Smart, a sophomore at Oklahoma State University, is one of college basketball’s brightest stars, but after an altercation at a game last Saturday he lost a bit of his luster.
Toward the end of a close game against Texas Tech in Lubbock, Smart went tumbling along the baseline after he attempted to block a shot. He jumped up, but before heading back onto the court Smart whirled around and exchanged words with a fan in the second or third row and then shoved him in the chest. As Smart was ushered away from the fan by teammates and the referees it was obvious that he was incensed. Smart repeatedly pointed at the fan and yelled to both him and the referees, appearing to accuse the fan of something. After the game Smart claimed the fan used a racial slur, and it came out that this same fan had been involved in confrontations with players previously.
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Some people refer to this problem as a “double standard.” But it’s more complicated than that; it’s a broken standard. Fans make their cheering personal and insulting. Players are expected to be emotionless automatons. Fans can act in ways they wouldn’t dare try anywhere else. Players are expected to respond as if it is nowhere else.
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