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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Friday, March 24, 2023
Jack Baer

Column: Elite-level sports are no place for retaliation

Marcus Smart is not a happy camper. His Oklahoma State team has pulled “a Wisconsin” by losing five of their last six games and now, he’s in some very hot water over his actions at Texas Tech.

In case you didn’t see the entire hour-long SportsCenter devoted to the incident, here’s what happened. Oklahoma State was about to continue its skid downward with a loss at Texas Tech, Smart jumped behind the basket for the ball and a self defined Tech “superfan” named Jeff Orr started yelling in his face. Smart responded by shoving Orr and stomping away while telling his coaches Orr dropped an N-bomb. Orr maintains he only called Smart a “piece of crap.”

Obviously, the whole thing is a mess. At best, Orr is your stereotypical “take sport too seriously” jerk and at worst, a racist twit. Smart, on top of everything, has clear anger issues.

Lets get this out of the way: what Smart did was inexcusable. An attack on a fan, no matter how much (s)he has yelled, is never warranted.

People like to create simple causalities in logic for these kinds of things, like the following two sentences, “If Orr really did say what Smart alleged, I guess he should have been shoved. If it was just ‘piece of crap,’ then Smart is just crazy.”

Neither of those statements are true. Smart isn’t the first athlete to hear vile insults thrown at him, nor will he be the last. He’s only notable because he responded, and that is simply not okay.

Nothing is more scary for sports leagues than fans fearing for their safety at events.

When a girl died at a Columbus Blue Jacket game from an errant puck to the head, the NHL almost immediately introduced protective netting. When a Texas Ranger fan died by falling from the upper decks, MLB ramped up their safety measures. When Ron Artest went berserk and drove the Malice in the Palace into overdrive, the NBA suspended him and any other player who so much as lifted a finger during the brawl.

Anything that endangers fans, even racist fans, needs to be treated as a problem.

Especially when that thing is a 6-foot-4, 220 pound future NBA player with an anger problem.

To defend Smart, we’ve all heard some variant of the line, “If I called a guy Smart’s size a piece of crap, I’d be lucky to only be shoved.”

I guess that’s true. But it has no importance to this situation.

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Smart shoved Orr as a representative of Oklahoma State, during a season-long audition for a league that still remembers the Artest fiasco well.

Sure, Orr was out of line. But there’s an intentional double standard when it comes to fan-athlete interactions. The same weekend, we heard reports of Oregon assistants being spat on by Arizona State fans and there was no outrage. Heck, we heard the Wisconsin student section repeatedly chant “Izzo swallows” to welcome Michigan State.

Every athlete eventually learns how to deal with the inevitable jerks they will encounter in their careers.

In the press conference where he accepted his three-game suspension, Smart showed he is working on learning that, and how to deal with his anger.

It’s a good thing because if he doesn’t, he simply doesn’t have a future in professional basketball.

Was Marcus Smart right in his actions? Let Jack know by emailing

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