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Sanctioning Schools For Dimwit Fans? It’s Hard To Police Thought

black-thought-policeNBA player Jason Collins’ decision this week to announce his homosexuality to the world has been met — mostly — with congratulations and shrugs.  Many feel Collins has knocked down yet another barrier in our society.  Many others are past the point of worrying what their favorite athletes do behind closed doors.

But some — if the 34-year-old free agent signs with a team this offseason — will no doubt shout heartless/gutless insults at Collins if/when he takes the floor again.  Just as sure as the majority of sports fans aren’t heels, there is most definitely a small set of sports fans who are.  Why some people feel the need to taunt and harass is beyond me, but anyone who’s ever attended a game knows that some believe ugliness to be a legitimate part of sports.

For those types, Collins might as well wear a “taunt me” sign on his back.

So what does this have to do with the SEC?  Well, NCAA president Mark Emmert said yesterday that he’s in favor of penalizing schools whose fans hurl verbal abuse at players because they are different.

Emmert was speaking at an Inclusion Forum in Indianapolis.  The goal of the get-together was to urge campus leaders “to make school policies more welcoming for women, minorities, disabled athletes and those with different sexual orientations,” according to ESPN.

When the subject of Collins’ announcement came up, Emmert said:


“At the very least, I hope it does make it much easier for athletes in universities and other environments to be open about it and be supported by their coaching staffs and teammates.  We’re talking about a culture change, and it’s slow and arduous, but what I’m seeing on campuses is that the inclusion issues has moved up…

I’m delighted by it.  The need for a high-performing athlete to fell he can be open and honest about his sexuality is long overdue.”


First, an admission.  My social views are libertarian.  I personally don’t care whether a ballplayer is married to a woman, a man, or a maple tree.  It’s your life, live it.  So when I look at those statements by Emmert, I’m not shocked, aghast or overjoyed.  Those statements – those statements — fall right in line with the statements made by most other educated people across the country since Collins’ announcement.

It’s what Emmert later said about sanctioning fan behavior that caused me to perk up.

When someone in the audience in Indianapolis pointed out that female basketball players “seem to be getting singled out” over their gender identities during games, Emmert asked the person what she thought could be done to stop such behavior.  The woman suggested schools could be sanctioned for improper fan behavior.

Remarkably, here was Emmert’s response to that notion:


“I would certainly support a proposal that would do that.  If that’s a rule that makes sense and there ought to be some sanctioning like that, then I hope the membership brings that forward.  I think that would make good sense.”


No.  That would most definitely not make sense, much less the good kind.

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