When it comes to fans' rights versus players' rights I usually find myself in the minority of those who defend the players. A lot of fans seem to have the notion that because they pay for their seats, they can do whatever the heck they want at a game without any regard for the well-being of the players or other fans. While it is true that attending a game is an investment, especially in these tight economic times, that does not give fans the right to abuse or endanger the safety of players.
The behavior of the Santa Clara student section last night late in the game against Gonzaga was ridiculous. It should probably be pointed out that unlike other fans, college students don't pay a dime for their seats, which somehow makes them feel more entitled to behave recklessly. Sadly, it was a Santa Clara player who was nearly clocked in the head by a plastic bottle launched from the student section. If you're going to be stupid enough to throw something from the stands, at least practice your aim before coming to the game! But seriously, I would love to see some of these rowdy fans from all sports go out there and try to play while someone is chucking stuff at them. Morons.
What is a shame is that the Santa Clara fans probably cost their team the game by handing the Zags four free throws in the final few minutes with the Broncos within striking distance. They complain when they get caught and kicked out of the game, sometimes even prosecuted, but where else can you throw an object at another person without consequence? It's called assault.
The Pacers-Pistons brawl a few years ago is a more extreme example. I will admit that the players should have been the bigger people and stayed out of the stands, but they were unnecessarily provoked. You can't just dump a beer on a player because he gets close enough for you to touch him. I don't promote violence, but when you throw something at a guy who is 6-foot-6 or taller, you shouldn't be surprised when he clocks you. At that point it's self-defense for him and you'd better hope you get a good head start. It's just sad Stephen Jackson hit the wrong guy.
Pay your money, take your seat, get involved in the game in a reasonable way, and don't end up in the police report.