The Steele Drum

September 17, 2009 1:32 PM

The Customer Is Always ...

While the American public wrung their hands and wailed to the heavens about the breakdown of civility and politeness among elected officials and celebrities, they forgot once again that they have no room to talk.

In fact, just in the past three weeks, sports fans proved that they can match the very stars they blast for their anti-social behavior, outburst for outburst. It didn’t seem that way for a while, but a pair of Buffalo Bills fans closed the gap earlier this week.

These two couldn’t even wait for the rage at Serena Williams to cool down. Two days into the nationwide flogging of the 11-time Grand Slam winner for unleashing her tirade against a line judge at the U.S. Open, the “fans’’ staged an early-morning vandalism run on the home of the Bills’ Leodis McKelvin, whose late-game fumble had opened the door for New England’s comeback victory over Buffalo in Foxboro a few hours earlier.

McKelvin’s lawn was spray-painted with the score of the game and a graphic obscenity – a different one from the one that turned Williams into a pariah and put her in the crosshairs of everybody within reach of a microphone or keyboard, but a pretty vile one anyway.

Don’t ever bother wondering whether these two delinquents have since absorbed the same level of abuse Williams did. It’s been mentioned in passing in the two days since it became known, when it gets mentioned at all. There are a lot of NFL injury updates and pennant “races’’ to follow now. Not to mention replays of the fumble itself.

Can’t imagine that the paying customers want to hear much about their own lawless indiscretions, anyway. That’s not good business. Just like it wasn’t good business to pursue the mayhem in the stands in Boise two weeks ago following the punch LeGarrette Blount threw at the end of his Oregon team’s loss – not when a lot more hay could be made of running endless loops of the punch itself, and dissecting the various violations of the rules of decent society that represented. So what if, minutes later, fans were caught on camera screaming curses, physically striking Blount and waving a chair in his direction?

In terms of threats to society, a metal stadium chair is child’s play compared to a tennis ball. Depending on who is threatening whom with which.

The good news is that local police are handling the thugs responsible for taking their anger out on the home, property and family of an NFL player. Much like police in Michigan took the time and effort to bring to justice the boneheads who started and escalated the Palace Brawl in Auburn Hills five years ago, the one that tarred (deservedly) the reputations of Ron Artest and his cohorts for life. The Pistons didn’t completely uphold their own responsibility for trying to shift blame from themselves in the aftermath, but they did yank a number of season tickets and ban the ticketholders.

There is actual proof that in the real world, everybody is held accountable for their actions.

It all makes you wonder, though, in what world do a lot of people exist – the people who sit silently as their fellow fans assume some crazed, delusional sense of entitlement, conclude that the law applies to someone besides them and act as if the sports universe revolves around them and is subject to their own fears, jealousies and inadequacies.

The same people who suddenly find their voices when an athlete or celebrity acts out, who believe they can act as judge and jury on those stars – when they don’t have a moral leg to stand on.

The people who live in glass houses – or who drive to others’ houses in glass cars, armed with spray cans and filthy minds.


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