While listening to the turgid Sporting News Radio Network early this morning, I was struck by the number of callers and commentators that seriously thought the fine young men of Clemson and South Carolina were unduly influenced by continuous airings of the Indy/Detroit Brawl To End ˜Em All.

On a similar blame the messenger tip, Spain™s papers were furious with the British press for their continued criticism of the unapologetic Luis Aragones, suggesting that the monkey chants at last Wednesday™s Spain/England friendly were a defiant response to the villification of their (racist) coach.

Since we™re in an era in which sports fans clearly have no minds of their own, how about blaming the radio screamers and editorial creeps for Friday™s violence? Artest had been made a walking target from coast to coast, and while there’s no condoning his foray into the seats, how did it get to the point where paying customers feel entitled to pelt the player with rubbish and/or engage him in hand to hand combat? Exceptions made for self-defense, naturally.

ESPN is reporting that Artest will be suspended for the rest of the season, Stephen Jackon for 30 games, Jermaine O’Neal for 25, and Detroit’s Ben Wallace for 6. Though I’d expect the Players Association (if not Pacers’ ownership to appeal), this pretty much kills Indiana’s season. No truth to the rumor that Larry Brown was petitioning the league to suspend Darko as well.