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Texas Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt should take Jeff Orr up on his reported offer to skip the rest of Tech's basketball games this season.
Frankly, it shouldn't be Orr's choice. Understand, it requires courage and conviction to make bold moves.
Hocutt and the Red Raiders should send a message to their fan base, the Big 12 and the NCAA that buying a ticket doesn't entitle you to be a jerk, whether you're a "superfan" or not. Tech should suspend Orr, a 1983 Tech graduate, for its final six games -- double the suspension Oklahoma State guard Marcus Smart received for giving him a two-handed shove during a game Saturday afternoon. Orr, who denied using a racial slur but admitted he called Smart a "piece of crap," can start attending games again next season.Who cares if the Waco, Texas, air traffic controller travels all over the country watching Tech play? Who cares if he's one of the team's biggest supporters?
Orr deserves a longer suspension because he's a middle-aged man berating a 19-year-old college basketball player like he's a professional earning seven digits.
He's the match that ignited this entire incident.
Not that we should be surprised. Not anymore. Social media, while great in myriad ways, has created much more of a mob mentality in our society.
We see the keyboard gangsta and Twitter thug mentality every day when cowards cloaked in anonymity sit at a keyboard and hurl insults at athletes they would never dare say face-to-face.
Obnoxious fans such as Orr sit in the stands, often surrounded by other like-minded cowards, and hurl derogatory insults toward athletes because they know security or the imaginary force field that keeps athletes from charging into the stands will protect them.
Orr gives every fan a bad name, and Tech should publicly rebuke him. So should Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby.
Instead, Tech did its own internal investigation and released a statement from Orr.
As you would expect, the Big 12 declined to say anything about Orr's inflammatory behavior.
"Mr. Smart's actions were a clear violation of the Big 12 Conference's Sportsmanship and Ethical Conduct Policy," Bowlsby said in a statement. "Such behavior has no place in athletics, and will not be tolerated."
What about the obnoxious fans, who cross the line of good taste and proper behavior? There seems to be this misguided idea that the first amendment gives each of us the right to say whatever we want without consequence, and that's simply not true.
No, we can't be persecuted for saying we don't like the president's political take on this or that, but refer to your boss as a four-letter word today and see what happens.
Consequences exist for every action. Buying a ticket to attend a sporting event doesn't give you the right to insult an athlete any more than buying a ticket to the movies gives you the right to yell "fire!" in a crowded theater.
Orr is the self-absorbed loudmouth who created this entire situation.
We understand Smart must show more self-control. No matter what a person like Orr says, you can't put your hands on him. No good comes from that.
|Orr, right, should be punished for his part in Saturday's altercation with Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart.|
Still, watch the highlights -- they're everywhere -- and you can see Smart crash into the baseline after attempting to block a shot with 6.2 seconds left in Oklahoma State's loss.
You see him sitting with his back to the crowd -- gathering himself -- when he suddenly whirls around, jumps up and delivers a two-handed shove to Orr's chest.
There's nothing wrong with fans cracking on a player's jump shot, his inability to hit free throws or any single aspect of his game.
But when it becomes personal, the proverbial line has been crossed.
You can say words shouldn't matter, shouldn't hurt. We all know they do.
"My actions last night were inappropriate and do not reflect myself or Texas Tech -- a university I love dearly. I regret calling Mr. Smart a 'piece of crap' but I want to make it known that I did not use a racial slur of any kind," Orr said in a statement released by Texas Tech.
"Additionally, I would like to offer my apologies to Texas Tech fans that have been embarrassed by the attention this incident has created."
This is the same dude who appears to direct an obscene gesture at Texas A&M Aggies player Bryan Davis after a dunk in a 2010 video that's all over the Internet.
In England, certain known soccer hooligans are banned. In tennis and golf, parents have been banned from tournaments for extraordinarily poor behavior.
Texas Tech should start with a six-game suspension, and if there's another incident it should ban him for an entire season.
One more subsequent incident and give Orr a lifetime ban. Perhaps that will shut him up.