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IN THE NEWS: Wakefield on Crowd-Player Violence

Nov. 30, 2004

San Antonio Express-News

Fanning wave of mad sports; Societal changes reflected in recent crowd-player violence.

By Richard Oliver

The melee in Michigan, instead, serves as the low point in an increasing series of explosive examples of deterioration of civility in the stands. While players have been involved with increasing frequency, often baited by extreme behavior around them, many social scientists have cast the spotlight on the audience for answers. 

"Over the years, it's become acceptable for people to behave the way they do at ballgames," said Kirk Wakefield, chairman of the marketing department at Baylor. "That behavior would not be accepted anywhere else. Yelling profanities at people, throwing stuff, things that now happen fairly frequently ... They incite violence, and you couldn't do that at your job and get away with it." 

..."We have these players and we pay them these ungodly amounts of money," said Wakefield, who last week was seated just behind the New York Knicks' bench at a Spurs game. "And some of them have these perceptions of themselves, that they are godlike. They don't have respect for their own fans." 

As the Indiana Pacers-Detroit Pistons brawl showed, it can work both ways. "Maybe it's a good wakeup call," Wakefield said. "We need to get serious about this." 

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