The National Basketball Association is taking a hard stance when it comes to abusive, hateful, and unruly fan behavior during NBA games, and is saying there is now a zero-tolerance approach when addressing any incidents.
“We’ve added any sexist language or LGBTQ language, any denigrating language in that way, anything that is non-basketball-related,” Jerome Pickett, the NBA’s executive vice president and chief security officer said (h/t ESPN). “So ‘your mother’ comments, talking about your family, talking about test scores, anything non-basketball-related, we’ve added that in as well as being something that we will go and pull a fan out of the seat and investigate what happened.”
The NBA has seen a troubling trend of escalating fan incidents, as evidenced last season by some altercations players such as Russell Westbrook, Kyle Lowry, DeMarcus Cousins, and other players’, have had with fans in attendance who took things over the line.
“Last season, I began to sense even at the games I was attending that there was a certain, I’ll call it absence of civility, that permeated the games,” Michele Roberts, the executive director of the National Basketball Players Association said. “I was seeing more bad-mouthing opposing teams that were not simply ‘you suck,’ which every one of us will tolerate, but really nasty, nasty comments being directed at players.”
There are also documented complaints from white players regarding the unruliness of NBA fans.
“There have been plenty of sober fans yelling slurs and attacking players in the worst way,” Amira Davis is an assistant professor at Penn State said. “I think it’s a mix of all of those things, and when looking at predominantly white spaces like Utah and a largely black labor force, it ratchets it up a little bit more and makes it a lot more intense. Particularly in this political climate in which it’s very easy to project onto high-profile black athletes and pathologies and misconceptions about the black community.”
If fans become unruly, they will be removed from their seats while officials investigate the incident in question.
The issue isn’t exclusive to the NBA, as there are similar incidents going on in all sports, including high-profile incidents in the MLB, and the NFL of late.
Now, the NBA is trying to do something to curb the behavior, and maybe set the precedent of how to do just that.
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