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Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Between The Wheels

Between the riot that broke out during the Detroit Pistons - Indiana Pacers game Friday night, the various fighting during the Clemson - South Carolina game, and, for that matter, the fighting in last week's Pittsburgh Steelers - Cleveland Browns game, my first thought was... well, with the NHL on strike, at least someone's filling the brawl quota for the year.

I watched parts of the "Malice in the Palace" riot as it happened Friday night, and my first draft impressions as of Sunday night looked something like this:
Ron Artest clearly needs help dealing with his anger issues, though the lawyer in me says it's unfair he's been singled out to the extent he has been due to his prior reputation as a hot head. At least least Artest was provoked by the actions of a fan, as compared with the somewhat less defensible actions of Stephen Jackson and Jermaine O'Neal. It was all most unfortunate; Artest shouldn't have fouled Ben Wallace in that fashion but Wallace's reaction was more than the situation called for (Wallace, by the way, is getting off light with only six games.) I'm glad to see that the Pistons are kicking out the offending fan, a season ticket holder, for the rest of the year, and that the fan who came running at Artest with his dukes up largely got what he deserved.

There's been a kind of a bread-and-circus, "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire" kind of feel swirling around this whole year. Three years after the September 11 attacks were supposed to usher in a more somber post-ironic mood, every month some of us need more ironic detachment and distance than ever from popular culture. Wardrobe Malfunctions, Abu Gharib, an especially nasty Presidential election season, Desparate Housewives, My Big Fat Obnoxious Reality Shows, Vibe Awards, and now Athletes Behaving Badly. It feels like a little much, like the other shoe's about to drop. But no one knows what that might be.


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