Being a sports fan is a practice that is both ridiculous and all-consuming. It warps your mind into believing you can manipulate the results of games through your wardrobe and, in some severe cases of fandom, make you a judgmental and flaming idiot.
Chane Behanan was dismissed from the University of Louisville Basketball team this afternoon for an unspecified violation(s) of university policy. The fallout of this event reaches far and wide, effecting his teammates, coaches, family and lastly – most definitely lastly – the fans (both those who root for and against him). The short story surrounding fan reactions is that some people behaved like adults and others turned my favorite sports blog into a clusterfuck of insipid, bigoted, ill-informed slack-jawed idiots bandying unsubtantiated information and mindless moral aspersions all over the place about a 21 year kid they don't know.
I excuse Chane Behanan of almost anything he has or hasn't done (shoot me if I support a 21 year old kid who had a pretty rough upbringing but always looks like he's having fun... and do I need to say National Championship here? Really? I shouldn't have to say it.) due to external factors, but I also excuse some fan behavior due to external factors. These factors are as follows:
- College sports are a morally corrupt enterprise. The nature of the NCAA does no favors for a fan of college athletics. It's blatant disregard for justice and it's general cartel structure that allows it to essentially treat star players as indentured servants taints the game in ways that come to fruition both through terrible rulings on things like eligibility and school sanctions, but also manifest themselves in how fans voice their opinions. If Chane Behanan were getting a paycheck (a real paycheck that paid him what his likely value is) one could make the case that part of his 'job" is being berated and or attacked with reckless abandon by mouth-breathers. But in theory he is an amateur who is in college trying to develop into a contributing citizen. This description does not seem to suggest that they should have to put up with this nonsense. Yet we treat college players like professionals because everyone else in their universe is a professional making millions of dollars off of the players' services.
- Speaking of professionals making millions of dollars, can we talk about Rick Pitino for just a second. I do not doubt that Chane violated rules, and maybe more than one time, and that the result of his dismissal is perhaps how this needed to end. However, the moral blindness some fans can have is stupefying beyond words. Either you are a sports fan who is a moralist (and I find you to be strange) or not, but you cannot spew moral indignation at Chane's "many chances" without recognizing Rick Pitino as one of the more morally corrupt and even repugnant people we have in college sports. I understand that Chane is supposedly a kid being taught a lesson, but I don't see how HOFCRP shouldn't constantly be taught a lesson as an adult by these same people. I am not a sports moralist and mostly root for the things that happen on the court and if something nice happens off the court that's fine too. SIDENOTE: This is why we as Card fans should cut this shit out about John Calipari (who, at best, has only been accused of doing something that is so much less terrible than Pitino has admitted to) and his "slimeiness".
- Sports media that isn't written by new Mike is appalling and only serves to feed people with limited curiosity, vocabulary and ability to see the world in anything but black and white (red and black?). Additionally they all make gobs of money off of treating the players as professionals to further the treatment by fans as professionals. People that are attending school on a philosophy scholarship aren't treated this way. Sports scholarships aren't any different. Oh wait. They are. They're often dangled above kids with limited opportunities to escape things like poverty and difficult circumstances in order to get them to absolve themselves of the rights of other people to make tons of money for people like Rick Pitino. I feel like I may sound angry. Hmmm.
- National Chamionship. Wait, what?
These are the reasons I can forgive some knee jerk reactions, or people feeling angry, and even for saying something stupid here an there. But I will not forgive people that don't then take a step back and look at themselves and think, "What the hell am I doing." In the end it is a game. It is a game that is supposed to be teaching people life lessons. A lot of fans however, never seem to learn anything. They treat every season and every team the same, like they hit a reset button. They see every kid who is successful on the court as obviously virtuous and full of character and those who struggle as too dumb to get it, or selfish, or whatever other bullshit that rots in their heads. It's hard to know how to be a fan who has a true rooting interest but doesn't try to be morally righteous, but if you want to really be the bigger person that's what you have to do.
Look, it's either that or get on the hire Brad Stevens train. I'm fine with that too.