Nothing like a little “controversy” to happen after an unpaid laborer reacts to a supposed superfan. First thing is first, though. It is official. The Oklahoma State Cowboys will be without the services of their best player, Marcus Smart, for three games because of a suspension that has apparently raised a few eyebrows.
Sadly, this might be the biggest college basketball story of the year. It has garnered plenty of hot sports takes. Some reasonable. Others not so much. But opinions have run the gambit as to wondering where was Travis Ford when it originally happened, to the superfan being a racist (but really not), all the way to some thinking this will kill his draft stock.
I don’t really care for any of those things. Everyone has their own opinion and so do I.
Mine is that, unless we are paying student-athletes, which we aren’t, treating them like pros (which includes being heckled) is off-limits. I also don’t think his draft stock gets hurt because of this. His draft stock will get hurt if he continues to play at the level he has been. As for Travis Ford, well, it was his and the school’s reaction after the game that has me troubled — not during the altercation.
Hindsight is great. It really is. We can judge Ford on what he did or didn’t do during the Smart/superfan altercation all we want. We weren’t there, in the moment, knowing full well that this event was going to be bigger than any contestant on The Biggest Loser.
Judging someone in hindsight (applicable for Ford and Smart) is as dumb as it is easy. Knowing everything we know now and being able to say what should have been done is like telling your 21-year-old version of yourself not to have that 12th shot of vodka. Yeah, it makes sense to you — now.
What I do question is how Oklahoma State has handled everything during the aftermath. Have they thrown Smart under the bus? Maybe. But they have certainly allowed Texas Tech to paint the picture by pushing their “superfan has voluntarily stepped down” spiel as much as the suspension.
We get it. The superfan has stepped down. Why is this news? I don’t care. He heckled a basketball player. In fact, that is what he is known for. Superfan (won’t use his name because IT DOES NOT MATTER) apparently has a history and thoroughly enjoys berating unpaid laborers. You know, for his own personal pleasure. Heck, look at the lady next to him after the shove and the pure joy that pours across her face as Smart shoves the superfan. That is the response they wanted and they got.
So, because life is weird I guess, that means Smart has to be suspended for giving a fan what he wanted.
Oklahoma State could have ended this all very easily. Yes, Smart should definitely be suspended. Three games does seem like the correct amount. However, allowing this superfan thing to even be a thing is insane. This is and should be about Marcus Smart. A player who reacted to a fan when he probably shouldn’t have. It could have been one of those fancy teachable moments coaches always talk about. Instead we are relegated to hearing a press conference where it felt like Smart was led out by the school and his coach to take his lumps — which isn’t fair considering their primary jobs should be to protect him. Even if he was wrong.
This story is going to have legs. Whatever Oklahoma State does or doesn’t do for the rest of the year will be tied to the exact moment of the shove. If Marcus Smart is to lead them on a great, magical NCAA Tournament run it will be because he “learned” a lesson from that moment and grew from it. If they falter or he continues to struggle it will be because of that moment.
Kinda funny how sports works while painting pictures. Even funnier when everyone doesn’t have hindsight to rely on. Until then, though, it’s just us all speculating as to what in the world is going on with Marcus Smart, Travis Ford and the Oklahoma State Cowboys.
Why? Because we get incredibly mad that unpaid laborers get exploited by the NCAA, but not when schools don’t protect them from situations, all in the name of exploiting the student-athlete for pageviews while using the ability of hindsight.
Man, I need me a teachable moment.