What ought to happen is simple, and comprehensive. The Pacers involved get real suspensions “ long, staggered and without pay. The Pistons get fined several million dollars for their security lapses, even though this was your basic unforeseeable situation. The teams play their next game in an empty arena, while paying all arena personnel as though they had worked that day, and then make sizable contributions to anti-violence charitable groups in their towns. And the fans involved are identified, found, stripped of their season tickets (if applicable) and charged with as much as the law will allow.
Now guess how many of those will happen.
Or better yet, let us answer that for you. Almost none of them.
And while you’re at it, guess which two other things won’t happen.
Beer sales will not be curtailed because the markup for beer is one of the great arena cash cows of all time. Beer at an arena has been elevated to a God-given right, and given that fans will cheerfully pay up to $12 for a bottle of imported, that’s a God the league and its members recognize and worship devoutly.
And the other is those courtside seats. They all seemed to bother the fellows on the NBA Shootaround studio so much, and yet, they aren’t going anywhere either. They may be bolted down now, but like the beer, they generate way too much money from way too many high rollers to do anything but stay right where they are.
Over the next few days, you will hear outrage, and disgust, and demands for retribution. Hey, they serve their purpose because they let everyone position themselves as victims and moralists. It’s good anaerobic exercise, and everyone comes away feeling better for the experience.
But don’t buy the apologies, and don’t buy the vows of punishment, or remedies. This, too, will pass because too many people want it to pass.
And when nobody’s looking, the Pacers and the fans will all be very proud of themselves for standing up to each other, for eagerly crossing the line that should never be crossed.
Some day, though, someone will end up dead at courtside, or rinkside, or the sideline, or in the tunnel, and then we’ll all wonder how it could have come to such a horrible end.