November 21, 2004

DEEEEtroit BASKetball, and Other Items of Note

AS WE HAVE been away for much of this week, we have subsequently found ourselves rather out of the loop when it comes to the news. Therefore it was only natural that lots of interesting things would happen during our absence. So, in an attempt to catch up, we would present some quick observations on these events, viz. and to wit:

* DEEEEEtroit BASKetball: Brendan Loy has a good rundown of a particularly nasty fight between members of the Indiana Pacers basketball squad, and bunches of Detroit Pistons fans whose drink-fogged minds kept them from realizing it's not advisable to throw things at really big and really angry athletes. To get a full sense of the bedlam which erupted at the Palace at Auburn Hills, click on the above link.

Naturally, the melee has prompted much hand-wringing and gnashing of teeth among the chattering class, who are shocked! shocked! to see that violence and unsportsmanlike conduct would happen at a basketball game. Our own thoughts on the matter are as follows:

1. Based on our limited knowledge of the incident, it appears most of the fans who were involved in the riot and were injured as a result got what they deserved. On general principle grounds, if a fan is stupid enough to charge out onto the court and lunge towards a player in a threatening manner, he is asking for trouble.

2. The Pacers players who went into the stands to fight with the fans showed amazingly bad judgment. Such a reaction to a short-term problem will only bring long-term headaches. Furthermore, if they go after the wrong fans -- and at least one fan says he was wrongfully assaulted -- it will really cause them grief down the line. The three Pacers players involved reportedly received an amazing 70 games' worth of suspensions. That's a LOT of money to throw away, to say nothing of the damage to one's career, endorsements, etc.

3. It might be a good idea for teams to put some sort of limit on alcohol sales during sporting matches. We're not suggesting a ban, because that would punish everyone; but we don't see why a team ought let certain fans drink to excess when they clearly can't hold their liquor.

Finally, we *do* hope this won't happen again, as we rather like John Mason's catch-phrase, and would prefer not to use it in such a scurrilious manner.

UPDATE, 8:33 PM: The NBA has suspended one player for 72 games, and eight other players a total of 70 games, the New York Times reports.

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* THERE'S GOLD on them there tickers. We were quite pleased to see that GLD, the new Exchange-Traded Fund (ETF) which lets one buy gold just like one would any equity, did so well on its opening day. Each share is the equivalent of 1/10th of a troy ounce of gold. While we are generally skeptical of gold as an investment -- if one must advertise on television, there's probably a reason for it -- we do think it could prove a useful hedge (1) once one has acquired significant assets.

As the fund makes it a lot easier to buy the stuff, and without having to worry about theft or loss, it is definitely a net positive for everyone. This goes especially for small investors, for no longer will they have to pay a premium to purchase gold in its coin form. We are especially hopeful GLD's success will lead to the introduction of other commodity-based ETFs, as it would let people invest in these goods without much of the risk that currently exist when dealing with the futures markets.

(1) Do note that when we speak of using gold as a hedge, we mean as a hedge against two particular things: first, stagflation or hyperinflation, and second, a collapse of civilization. As both these things are highly unlikely, we can see no reason why one would want to invest more than 1 to 2 pc of one's holdings in specie; and if one has under $1 million in investable assets, we can't see why you would screw around with it at all.

We should also mention that we are NOT licensed financial advisors, and as such do NOT take responsibility for your investment decisions. Read the prospectus carefully before investing, there's a high degree of risk, investors can and do lose money, perhaps you should look at Treasuries instead, void in Vermont.

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* FILE TO THE "YOU DON'T SAY" DEPT. From The Guardian newspaper, based in London:

A former royal secretary told an employment tribunal today that Prince Charles is the head of a "hierarchical and elitist" workplace where staff are expected not to "rock the boat."

We do not, of course, take lightly the serious allegations made within the article, which we encourage all readers to read. Those charges, which involve the conduct of a minor official against the complaintant, ought be punished severely if true. So we want to be absolutely clear about that.

What amazes us, though, is how shocked and outraged many Britons are about the alleged elitism on the Prince of Wales' part. Did we miss something here? After all, we are discussing a monarchy. This would seem to suggest that elitism was part and parcel of the whole deal. If the people of Great Britain do not want their hereditary royalty to act as if they're entitled to the perks and privileges which go along the job, then perhaps they ought reform or scrap the whole institution.

But that, of course, is a discussion for the people of Great Britain alone. As for us, we're going to have some dinner. We'll report with more details about our fabulous trip to the nation's capital soon.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at November 21, 2004 08:10 PM | TrackBack

Your impression of the Pistons-PAcers debacle is mostly right on point, though I'd mention that it appears that many of the fans who "charged the court" were actually just trying to get away from rampaging players like Ron "Will Somebody Explain to Me What Integrity Means and Why it Means I was Wrong to Ask for a Month Off to Promote My Rap CD" Artest, and contrary to your assertion that most of the fans "deserved what they got," the preliminary indication is that the players who attacked fans seemed to be attacking fans who had nothing to do with the initial beer-throwing incident whatsoever, and indeed seemed to attack at least one or two of the fans just because they were there.

Posted by: Geoff Brown at November 22, 2004 12:08 PM


Well, like I said, I didn't get to actually SEE the fight, so I had to reply on media reports. Besides, I said *most* of the fans, and ...

OK, OK, so nobody's perfect. Geeeeez.

Posted by: Benjamin Kepple at November 22, 2004 05:57 PM

I know, but I had to stand up for the hometown crowd, you know? :-) And while the jackass fan who started the whole thing by throwing the beverage ought to have his ass handed to him, it was totally inexcusable for Ron "Miserable Piece of Shit" Artest to react the way he did. At least now he'll have all the time in the world to work on his rap career.

Posted by: Geoff Brown at November 23, 2004 10:36 AM

The trouble is Artest beat the crap out of people not-involved, like the woman he put in the hospital. I think the only winner in this (besides those of us that think that spectator sports are a complete waste of time, emotion and money) is the lawyers. I hope the spectators sue the crap out of those goons. Of course this will probably help Artest's album sales.

Posted by: Andrew Ian Dodge at November 23, 2004 11:17 AM

What Ian said. Except the part about the lawyers. Of course, you're probably right about that, too, but, here again, I have to stick up for my own.

Posted by: Geoff Brown at November 23, 2004 11:35 AM