Not a smart choice

The telephone rings while you’re updating a spreadsheet, responding to an e-mail or typing up a weekly progress report.

Your boss is nagging, The woman from the next cubicle is bragging about her kids and the clock seems to be ticking slower and slower and slower.

It’s a normal day at work.

Then, some guy who you’ve never met before somehow busts in the office, points a finger in your face and calls you “a piece of crap.”

Not exactly the nicest greeting, right? Not exactly something you want to be told while you’re minding your own personal space and doing your job.

So what gives people the right to degrade athletes in the same manner?

Yes, these are two different scenarios. I’m willing to bet there’s not a paying audience watching your every move in your place of business. In turn, I’ll double my bets and say that you aren’t making a tenth of what most sports figures take home.

But Oklahoma State basketball player Marcus Smart isn’t a professional athlete with a multi-million dollar contract. Smart, along with thousands of other collegiate athletes and the hundreds of high schoolers that we cheer on each night in the Ohio Valley are still in the public eye.

They’re teenagers.

So when an overweight, balding, foul-mouthed, cowardly 50-year old belittles a kid in plain sight, he deserves some backlash.

Texas Tech fan Jeff Orr did just that last week when he lambasted Smart after a play on the baseline, near the front row of seats. Orr received a shove to the chest from Smart, while the 19-year old All-American guard received a three game suspension.

What Smart did was uncalled for, idiotic and has no place in sports – on any level.

What Orr did was, unfortunately, an all too common action among sports fans – on every level.

Smart originally claimed that Orr spouted a racial slur at him as he dove out of bounds in the game against the Red Raiders. Reportedly, Orr called Smart “a piece of crap.”

Orr, an air traffic controller who travels 800 miles across the state of Texas to attend as many Tech basketball and football games as he can each year, likely never played organized sports past the prep level. Smart has more athletic ability in his pinky toe than Orr has, or ever had, in his entire body.

Smart, the reigning Big 12 Player of the Year, has the potential to be an NBA lottery pick and a star basketball player for years to come.

Who’s the real piece of crap here?

Smart was way out of line when he put his hands on somebody in the stands. He’s been criticized throughout the season for having a poor attitude, such as in OSU’s game against West Virginia in Morgantown when he kicked a chair after disagreeing with an official’s call. His outburst against Texas Tech and Orr may have just been his boiling point, but he has to learn from it. All athletes have to learn from Smart’s dumb decision.

Any time an athlete walks into an opposing environment, he or she should brace for some heat. It starts at the high school level. I’ve covered games throughout Ohio and West Virginia where the student sections are right on top of the action, creating a loud and intimidating atmosphere. I’ve heard shouting, yelling and taunting and I’ve seen it get under players’ skin.

Heck, I’ve been a part of a merciless student body when I was an undergrad at WVU not too long ago. Part of being a Mountaineer meant creating an electric environment. It’s the players job to block out the noise and focus on their task. It’s their job for 32, 40 or 48 minutes; nine innings, four quarters or two halves.

This incident should force fans to do their own self-evaluation and look themselves in the mirror before opening their mouths at a sporting event.

How many times have you, a normal fan, been watching a football game when the kicker of your favorite team misses a game-winning field goal?

You throw the remote across the room, you slam your hands against the expensive leather couch and cuss the kicker’s name under your breath. You call him a piece of crap, perhaps?

Say you’re at a basketball game. The referee calls a shooting foul in the paint when the player on your team clearly had all ball. That guy in the black-striped shirt is such a piece of crap, right?

An NCAA basketball referee took matters into his own hands when it involved two out of line fans at the Memphis-Central Florida game on Wednesday. Jim Burr, a 40-year whistle-blowing veteran, ejected a pair of fans sitting in the front row after he had heard enough of their heckling.

Better patrolling of the sidelines might just be more prevalent in arenas across the county.

Whether in the living room, club level of a baseball game or inside of a high school gymnasium, anytime a fan makes a scene or unleashes a profanity-laced tirade, it’s an embarrassment.

Don’t be that guy.

Don’t be Jeff Orr.

Don’t be the woman from the next cubicle who brags about her kids.

(Peaslee, a Youngstown resident, is a sports writer for the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times and can be contacted at mpeaslee@heraldstaronline.com and followed on Twitter at @thempeas)