Kindness is more important than wisdom, and the recognition of this is the beginning of wisdom.

Theodore Isaac Rubin

Upon researching good quotes regarding the topic at hand, this one stood out. It addresses the very crux of my argument in the following paragraphs. One, in which, could be met with pushback and differing opinions given what I will be associating it with.

The past few days have been interesting to say the least. What happened? The N.C. State and UNC men’s basketball teams met on the court Saturday for the first of two matchups this regular season. If you stop reading at this point, I understand, but I implore you to continue. The game was pretty much what you would expect from a heated rivalry: intense action and a hostile environment at the Dean E. Smith Center in Chapel Hill. One of the big talking points was the officiating and free throw discrepancy but I will not be addressing that. The point of this post is about a moment in the game that turned quite brutal.

In the second half, N.C. State’s Terquavion Smith was fouled hard by UNC’s Leaky Black while going on a breakaway to the basket. Smith sustained injuries that warranted healthcare officials to bring out a stretcher and transport him to a local hospital for evaluation. Smith ended up being okay. However, this created a firestorm in real-time on social media between fans of both teams. The banter was what you would expect for a heated rivalry at first but as time went on, it escalated.

UNC’s Armando Bacot, in an effort that did not help the situation, sported sunglasses during his postgame interview. The decision to do so being what I thought, at first, was in response to an N.C. State viral video featuring D.J. Burns in sunglasses after the Pack’s win against Duke earlier in the month. Come to find out, it was not. Vashti L. Hurt of Carolina Blitz followed up with Bacot about why he was wearing the sunglasses during his postgame presser. According to Bacot, he apparently wore the sunglasses to “poke fun” at Smith in response to some comments Smith made a few days before. See below.

If Smith had not been injured to the point of being on a stretcher and being evaluated at a hospital, I would have just chuckled and rolled my eyes at Bacot’s actions. However, neither we nor Bacot knew of Smith’s condition during the presser, so I have a major issue with his choice to do this. It’s about situational awareness, folks. Bacot’s actions were indicative of poor situational awareness, in my opinion. Likewise, those who agreed with Bacot’s actions also exercised poor situational awareness.

Then comes the vitriol on social media. Despite what some folks have said, the hateful comments were spewed by both fanbases. Yes, both. There was the usual name calling or accusing one side or the other of being whiny, and so on. But what I want to focus on are actual, personal attacks that had absolutely nothing to do with the game. There were personal attacks hurled against players and fans of each team. Again, from both sides. There were also personal attacks and threats apparently sent by some UNC fans at a member of the local media for a post he made during the situation. Some of those personal attacks to this person even apparently coming from the social media account of a place of business. That is never okay in any circumstance by anyone.

Look, I’m not dumb. I know none of this crap is new. But it all really took a toll on me this go’ round. To the point I disengaged from sports the day after. I was especially bothered seeing some folks claim that Wolfpack fans were the only ones hurling the hateful rhetoric when, in actuality, that claim was patently false. All fanbases have idiots who take things way further than they should. Conversely, all fanbases have rational members who would never say things like that. It’s well past time to generalize an entire fanbase due to the actions of a few of its members.

What it comes down to for me is this: I know it’s a rivalry and things are said in rivalries. However, when I witness folks saying things that are outside the lines of a game, I get fed up. Whether it’s a matter of situational awareness, to the extremes of hurling personal attacks and threats. I know the words I type in this blog won’t stop it but it needs to stop. Now.

We must learn to practice kindness to our fellow human in all aspects of life. I did not see that the past few days. We should be better.

Photo Courtesy: Belinda Fewings via Unsplash

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