Chicago Sun-Times writer Rick Telander has an excellent column on the endlessly discussed implications of last Friday night's melee at the Palace at Auburn Hills. Telander addresses the social implications of the event, specifically the matter of personal responsibility which I have brough up in my own discussions of it on this site. Telander writes,
"It is the moral reasoning -- the ability to factor in social grace, empathy, future ramifications, justice, and responsibility -- that eludes Artest. As it does so many other athletes. And fans.
"Indeed, what if Stern is trying to change what is seemingly the biggest cultural constraint of all: what it means to be a man? The new concept of 'disrespect'?
"You can push any rational man only so far, and then he must fight back or lose all self-esteem. But is that self-esteem called into play every time someone bumps into you, calls you a bad name, douses you with beer?
"'I think it starts at a very young age,' [sports agent Mark] Bartelstein said. 'I see things that I can't believe at AAU games and the like. Players are not competing, they're trying to embarrass the person they're playing against. No one's held accountable, because if you're a great player, someone will always find a rationale to have you on the team.
"'After a touchdown or a dunk, you're proving your manhood. It's a culture that is all about embarrassing someone or calling attention to yourself instead of just competing. It's incredible.' Changing that, commissioner Stern, will be a lot harder than making someone take a pill."