In the 1975 film "Rollerball," the corporate world state of some futuristic society controls the bloodlust of its sterile populace through the brutal, sporting violence of a game. Being publicly educated and stuff, I never fully understood this.
In 2004 Sports America, we are a nation of jerks. Being a sporting American and stuff, I've always understood this.
Here are some of the lasting images from the Pacers-Pistons NBA riot that erupted in Auburn Hills, Mich., Friday night:
Ron Artest, lying on the scorer's table, was hit in the face by a cup of beer.
Jermaine O'Neal was hit in the face by a box of popcorn.
Referee Tommy Nuñez was hit in the head by a plastic bottle.
Artest, O'Neal and Stephen Jackson each cold-cocked fans with haymaker punches.
Jamaal Tinsley came out of the locker room with a dustpan -- yes, a dustpan -- and appeared ready to use it as a weapon.
Indiana players were pelted with items by fans as they made their way to the locker room.
Children were crying in the stands, an older woman was on her back on the arena floor.
(Incidentally, I thought the Pacers really controlled the tempo of the game before it was halted.)
We are at a crossroads -- then again, this nation is always at a crossroads, usually an overbuilt intersection with two gas stations, a 7-Eleven and a McDonald's -- in terms of how we treat each other, on and off the playing fields.
Howard Cosell once said, "Sports is a microcosm of life." Lately, it not only is a microcosm of life, it's larger than life. Either way, we're going to hell in a handbasket sponsored by Coors Light.
(Column Intermission I: My Team of Destiny, the Arizona Cardinals, has teetered at 4-6, and a flood of e-mail has taunted me. So be it. I'm sticking with my guys. That's another problem in this country these days -- nobody stands for anything anymore. Speaking of which, why couldn't Dennis Green stick with my man Josh McCown? Shaun King? Shaun King? You don't go to Shaun King unless you're on a desert island and you're out of matchsticks.)