UCLA redshirt freshman forward Mac Etienne was arrested on Thursday night following the Bruins’ 76-66 loss to the Arizona Wildcats. He was cited for assault for appearing to spit at Arizona fans on his way back to the locker room.
“We allowed him to go with the team back to the locker room,” Sgt. Sean Shields, the public information officer for University of Arizona police, said. “And he was arrested for assault.”
Video of the incident following the game has made its way around the internet, and Etienne does appear to be spitting toward fans.
UCLA and Etienne were informed that he would be placed under arrest and issued a citation for assault with “the intent to injure, provoke or insult” another person.
Spitting is not only wrong, but to many vile and reprehensible. That is among the more disrespectful things you can do to someone. We don’t know what was said to provoke that kind of reaction; nonetheless, if he did spit that was wrong and he should face whatever punishment fits.
An official report about the incident and anything that was said by the fans or Etienne will be released in the official incident report. Etienne will have a court date in Arizona but could potentially be allowed to address the citation without traveling back to the state.
Again, the act of spitting is wrong and vile. But it will be interesting to learn what Etienne, or any witnesses might say possibly provoked the reaction. It wouldn’t be the first time a fan or fans said something inappropriate to a player.
The game was on the road, so the Arizona fans were bound to be hostile toward their PAC-12 rivals. Booing or anything within the bounds of normal fan behavior is fine, and players know to expect that.
But there are things fans know not to say. Things that cross the line and wouldn’t be said in any other scenario. Maybe something like that was directed toward Etienne? We’ll find out when the report’s released.
In general, fan culture and behavior has gotten out of control. Some of this behavior is abhorrent and pure mob mentality. At the end of the day, it’s just a game. Win or lose, these contests shouldn’t have the kind of impact on your life that would cause you to react in an undignified manner or act inhumanely.
“UCLA Athletics is committed to and expects the highest level of sportsmanship,” the school said in a prepared statement late Thursday. “We are aware of the incident involving a student-athlete at tonight’s men’s basketball game, and the matter is under review.”
One of the great privileges of attending a sporting event, particularly a basketball game, is if your seats are so specified you are in very close proximity to the players. It’s awesome. But close proximity doesn’t mean you need to interact and/or act indecent.
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