There Are More Important Things

Phillip Barnett —  August 6, 2010

Los Angeles Lakers' Ron Artest gets in the face of Boston Celtics Paul Pierce (R) as Rasheed Wallace looks on during the first half of Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals basketball series in Los Angeles, California, June 17, 2010. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

In late June, a brawl broke out at a kindergarten graduation involved 20 adults, two of which were arrested. Not that a brawl breaking out at a kindergarten graduation wasn’t bad enough, but the adults began fighting over a Facebook comment that mentioned the Lakers. Adults. Facebook. Fighting. Kindergarten graduation.

We are currently living in a world where society gets scarier and scarier for our children every day. I’m a firm believer in providing an environment in which the children of my life have the best opportunity to succeed. A little over two years ago, my sister gave birth to my first nephew. Not even as a father, my perspective on the lives of children changed dramatically. When you have young kids in your life, there is a burden of raised responsibility that is placed upon you. I’m not saying that I’ve become a dramatically different person since the birth of my nephew, but his mere existence reinforces the fact that there are more important things in life than sports – most notably our youth.

As sports fans, we are a different kind of emotional beings. We love to defend the players and teams that we’ve invested a considerable amount of emotional time in, but there has to reach a line in which our defense has to stop. There is no point in Ron Artest defending players on the bench because they’re out of bounds. I’m sure he can do a great job in guarding those players, but it’s pointless and it makes him look foolish in the same way that fighting at a kindergarten graduation does. We need to make sure that we understand where the realm of our sports fandom begins and ends. This isn’t about the Lakers v. the NBA, this is about unruly parents v. their children. If we can’t even give our kids a peaceful graduation during some of the earliest years of lives, than we are failing them.

TrueHoop’s Henry Abbot wrote about the Bill Simmons/Chuck Klosterman podcast where they talked extensively about LeBron James decision to go to Miami. An interesting exchange that Simmons and Klosterman have involves the question of the ultimate consequence of sport. Simmons argues that James doesn’t understand the “life and death” part of sports. Klosterman argues that there is no life and death part of sports – and this is an argument that needs to be hammered into adults across the nation. No matter how strongly you feel about your favorite basketball team, there is never a situation that should call for one to engage in an altercation over what may or may not happen on the basketball court.

We need to be more responsible about our actions around our children to ensure they grow up with as many opportunities to succeed as possible. It’s a cruel, cruel world we live in, there is no need for that cruelness to be extrapolated from the adults in lives of these children.

Phillip Barnett