The fan who threw a beer in Tyreek Hill’s face Sunday night in Foxboro, Massachusetts, is 21 years old, meaning he was just 7 on the night in 2004 when a fan threw a beer at Ron Artest, and something very, very unexpected happened.
That night, every sports fan was reminded of a fact of life that nobody should ever forget: If you throw a drink at somebody, there’s a chance they will punch you in the face.
And you will have deserved it.
Now, athletes are discouraged from retaliating in this manner, and for the most part that’s a good thing. Self-control is virtuous, honorable, and not as easy as it looks. Not many NBA players would have gone charging into the stands the way Artest did, just as there are not many civilians who would respond the way Artest did.
But there are some, and it’s good to get a reminder of that every once in a while.
Am I saying I wish somebody would have punched this Pats fan in the face?
I mean …
What’s going to happen to him instead is, he’s going to be charged with disorderly conduct, which in Massachusetts is a misdemeanor carrying a penalty of up to six months in jail and a $200 fine. Unless he’s got priors, he’s not going to spend much, if any, time in jail. This is going to be one of those fine-probation-community service types of things, and he’s probably not going to be allowed to drink alcohol for a while as a condition of his probation, assuming that’s what he gets.
That’s one way of resolving it.
Another is, he gets punched in the face, we call it even, and everybody moves on.
It has to be said that Tyreek Hill should not be doing the punching, because Hill pleaded guilty three years ago to punching and choking his girlfriend, and was wisely counseled by Chiefs coach Andy Reid not to retaliate against the young Pats fan. Hopefully Hill has put his punching days behind him.
But what I’m saying is, that fan? That 21-year-old fan? He assaulted a stranger knowing full well that stranger wasn’t going to do anything about it. Couldn’t do anything about it. He’s throwing beer on strangers from behind a wall, surrounded by people who are on his side, certain that there’s no way these guys are going to jump that wall and come beat him up.
He’s like these idiots in Detroit that night in 2004 who ran into a fight thinking it was going to be fun, and found out otherwise.
Once a decade, it would be nice to see a fan get decked by a player is all I’m saying. Just often enough to remind everybody that these are human beings, too, and if you challenge somebody to a fight by doing something outside the bounds, you’d better be ready for them to take you up on it.