Commentary - Fans out of control


This is a stupid post.

A column about out-of-control fans is patently stupid. There shouldn't be enough evidence to write one.

But writing about out-of-control fans is still less stupid than actual out-of-control fans at high school basketball games, and the latter has become a trend in the Wilmington area in the past month.

Here's the evidence:

During the Laney-Ashley girls basketball game last Tuesday at Laney, Bucs senior Kelli Gottry dove after a loose ball into the stands, coming near a fan in the first row. Gottry and the fan briefly exchanged words. Gottry walked away.

That was the end of it. At least it was until another Laney fan stood up and started screaming at the man who'd exchanged words with Gottry.

After a minute of heated exchange, Laney principal Al O'Briant escorted the original fan who'd exchanged words with Gottry from his seat to the rear exit, where he was surrounded by administrators and deputies to defuse the situation.

Two more notable instances of the same problem came from Brunswick County. The boys game between North Brunswick and Whiteville in early January had to have the Leland gym cleared after fans threw water bottles at a Whiteville player and the fans refused to calm down.

Last Friday at West Brunswick, during the Trojans' win against West Bladen, fans got so out of hand that officials called the game with 13.6 seconds left.

In all three instances, the crowd was the issue. Not the players. That's a problem.

The players on the court are expected to make dumb decisions. They're 15-, 16- and 17-year-old kids. Ever do something stupid when you were a teenager? Me too.

In fact, if a player makes a stupid decision on the basketball court, there's a process for dealing with it – if a player mouths off at officials, technical foul. Two shots and the ball for the other team. Get into a fight and you're ejected for that game, and the next four.

But there's very little in place to prevent adult fans from going too far. If two players get into a fight, there are officials, coaches and deputies to keep things from getting out of hand. If 40 or 50 of 800 fans get out of control, the situation turns from a scuffle to a riot.

At North Brunswick, officials waited a tense 10 to 15 minutes for additional police officers to arrive before even attempting to clear the gym. They were worried they didn't have enough manpower.

In all three scenarios, the players – the kids – acted like adults. The adults in the stands acted like petulant children.

I'm sure it's hard to watch your child or a young person you care about take a hard foul or get into a physical altercation. But there's no benefit to starting a fight or walking onto the court as a fan. All you've done is make a stupid decision, ruin the game and give me enough evidence to write this stupid column.



Reach Powell Latimer at 343-2261 or Powell.Latimer@StarNewsOnline.com. Follow him, and all local high school sports, on Twitter at @StarNewsVarsity.