Rumble in Auburn Hills

I missed it – but no one else in the newsroom did. We were between our 10 and 11 PM newscasts. People were getting ready and TV’s were on. A few sports fans were watching Indiana and Detroit play at The Palace at Auburn Hills… and then the screaming began.

The screaming was taking place in the newsroom. I’ll get to Detroit in a minute.

A TV newsroom is an interesting place. First, everyone is sensitized to the news (obviously). You don’t want to get beaten on a story. You don’t want to miss anything. So, if something is going on… on TV… and the word gets out, everyone snaps to it.

That’s what the screaming was all about.

Within a few minutes we had enough video cut to put it on the air with an explanation of what went on. We were pretty fast and thorough. But, the story is much more complex.

I have watched the video dozens of times. My first reaction was to blame the players. Certainly the NBA did, with four players suspended. There will undoubtedly be lawsuits and probably arrests.

However, one day later, I’m not so sure it’s all the fault of the players. This is not to say the players are without culpability. There are no circumstances under which the players should be in the stands. And, I have trouble feeling sympathy for well tuned, physically immense, athletes punching smaller, weaker fans – even in self defense.

There are at the minimum two questions that need to be asked. Where was the venue’s security? Is there a relationship between the alcohol served to fans and this aggression?

I have read a few columns, including Mike Lupica’s in the Daily News, that seem to remove the players from blame. I won’t agree with that. But, it’s not as simple as looking at players like Ron Artest (who I had no respect for prior to this event) and calling them thugs.

This isn’t about the poverty which is endemic in Detroit. The game was played in Auburn Hills in front of an affluent audience who payed a great deal to see the game.

Getting to the bottom of this… coming up with solutions… will not happen quickly or come easily. Regardless of what the courts say, this is about more than just the actions of individuals.

Blogger’s note – This entry was begun Saturday night and completed early Sunday morning. As it turned out, even when I began to write, it was much too difficult to get my arms around. In fact, it is more than possible I will later rethink what I have just written. Don’t be fooled by the video you’ve seen. This is very complex. Deep thought is required.

One thought on “Rumble in Auburn Hills”

  1. Being that I’m not at all into sports (the world is crazy when athletes get paid mega bucks more than people with truly important jobs) I normally don’t pay attention to news stories related to that. But, it was quite a turn off when the Artest guy used part of his air time on The Today Show Tuesday, to plug his upcoming CD. The players are at fault, AND the fans are at fault. The behavior of fans at events like that seems to partially reflect the overall decline of society’s behavior in many situations—and since when have many players realy been any sort of “role model?”

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