Foul play: Student-athletes should be protected from verbal abuse

Move over Richard Sherman, America has found its new N-word— well I meant "thug."

On Saturday night in Lubbock, Texas, the Oklahoma State Cowboy men's basketball team lost to Texas Tech. Although people will forget about the loss, people won't forget about the altercation between Marcus Smart and Texas Tech's so-called "Super Fan."

When you wake up every morning, do you ever look at yourself in the mirror and critique yourself? Do you point out your many weaknesses as a person emotionally, physically or mentally?

If you are one of the many people who answered no, then maybe you should think twice before you saddle up to get on your high horse.

Athletes share a common denominator in the sense they receive so much verbal abuse. Professional and student-athletes share the responsibility of dealing with the constant heckling of fans and personal attacks on their character, but when enough is enough, isn't it enough?

Smart should have handled the situation better, but before anyone can get to that conclusion, the question of where do you draw the line must be asked. Sports plays a vital part in the American culture, but everyone can't play at Smart’s level. For those fans, they become the ugliest cheerleaders, or what most would call the "common heckler."

Before ESPN, media outlets and the average Joe blow the situation out of proportion, let's remember most of these analysts and other critics have never been in Smart's position. This statement proves true because the majority of analysts and critics have never laced up their sneakers to play a collegiate game—or high school game for that matter. Another fact that helps the argument stems from the fact that everyone knew it had to be either two things the fan could have said to Smart to get that type of reaction.

Either he attacked his family or mother, or he called Smart the N-word. Smart shoved the man and walked away from the situation. He kept up some of his antics but the situation didn't resemble that of Ron Artest in the infamous "Malice in the Palace." Although basketball classifies as a spectator sport, the question of "How does the NCAA or any of the professional leagues protect their players from fans verbal and sometimes physical attacks, without losing fan appeal?" needs to be answered.

People forget the fact that at the end of the day, these student-athletes are human beings and not super-men who have full-ride scholarships. Racism will stem as the heart of the situation as the media will likely portray it. At the end of the day, no matter how many points you score or records you break it seems that the athlete in question will always be the dumb jock, thug or, well, an N-word.