When Oklahoma State‘s Marcus Smart put his hands on a fan, he was in the wrong. Smart was wrong to touch the fan, he was wrong to let his emotions get the best of him and he was wrong to try and justify his actions.
Richard Sherman was criticized for only focusing on himself instead of his team after a playoff victory, and the actions of Smart were even more selfish than those of Sherman. Unfortunately for Smart, this incident will have lingering consequences for the future of the Oklahoma State star. Smart will face immediate discipline by being suspended for three games.
For every athlete, it is an unfortunate requirement that they will need to deal with demeaning and insulting comments from sports fans. The list of players who have faced a variety of public attacks range from former University of Maryland star Juan Dixon constantly being reminded from the fans of rival schools that his parents were drug addicts, to Knowshon Moreno being made fun of for being overtaken by emotion and crying before a game.
I want to fully emphasize that it is despicable to try and breakdown a person with verbal attacks. An individual can cheer against a rival team or player in a respectful manner, but attacking the personal life or race of an athlete should never be accepted.
While I am not letting Smart off of the hook, I do understand why he acted the way he did. Understanding something is not the same as acceptance, but it would be difficult for anyone to deal with the supposed discriminatory language that the fan used against Smart.
When Smart landed on the ground, he was looking straight ahead and appeared to be ready to get back up. He heard a comment made toward him, and he turned to face the crowd. It was unclear what the fan said, but it was obvious that something was purposely stated to cause a rise out of Smart. There is no excuse for a grown man to try and verbally accost a 19-year-old, and it is even sadder if Smart had to listen to his race being insulted.
The sports world has unfortunately witnessed several confrontational situations between fans and athletes in the past few years. What everyone needs to remember is that sports are meant for entertainment. Despite what some people may think, athletes are not the personal property of the fans. With that being said, however, athletes need to be aware that there will always be people who cross the line. An athlete needs to learn how to compose themselves when someone is trying to get a negative reaction out of them.
No matter what was ultimately said, Smart was wrong to react the way that he did. Smart and the individual who helped create this situation can learn and grow from this experience, and I hope that this teaches a lesson for future athletes and fans on unacceptable behavior.