Sometimes the message sent is, indeed, the message received

When explaining the importance of stimulus-response in communications, my partner, Ed, likes to use the expression "the message sent is not always the message received." As an example, Ed will cite former President Nixon’s now infamous "I am not a crook" comment when defending his Watergate actions. While Nixon’s intent was to communicate that he’d had nothing to do with the third rate burglary, his words suggested the exact opposite in listeners’ minds.

All of which relates to the image and reputation train wreck that is the New York Knicks.

On Monday night, Chris "Rep Jr." Cody and I had courtside seats to the Knicks stirring, one-pointB95876jg  overtime win against Utah, an interesting rebound in light of the team’s ugly Saturday night brawl against the Denver Nuggets.

In observing the goings-on in the three-ring circus that is a contemporary Knicks game, I noted:

1.) The players incessantly taunt, menace, verbally abuse and stare down one another throughout the game. Their "in your face" machismo is genuinely scary when viewed up close and personal. Based upon Saturday night’s altercation between the Knicks and Nuggets, one can see why such violence occurs. The roughousing, manhandling, near strangulation and, at times, outright mugging is unreal.

2.) The City Dancers are way over the line. They’re a group of about 15 young women who skip onto the hardwood floor during breaks and shimmy, gyrate and cartwheel their way through a song or two. To say their moves are sexually suggestive does the City Dancers a disservice. These women know what they’re doing, a fact not lost on the predominantly male crowd. But, what sort of message does this send to the young kids in attendance, especially the girls? Talk about anti-role models. These ladies could make the Bada-Bing dancers in the Sopranos blush with envy.

3.) Our courtside seats were both a blessing and curse. While we loved being so close to the action, we were continually pushed, shoved and jostled by little kids snapping pics of the action on their cell phone cameras. No matter how many times the seated fans complained, the pint-sized paparazzi would re-surface time and again, pushing and shoving people out of the way so they could grab a pic of Isiah, Malik or Steph.

So I got to thinking about the ladies and the lads.

They’re actually just responding to the stimulus sent by the players who, in turn, are allowed, if not encouraged by management, to strut, swear and swagger their way through game after game.

It’s a vicious cycle. Fans pay big bucks to watch thugs beat up one another on the court, leer at scantily-clad ladies as they strut their stuff during breaks and suffer as street urchins elbow their way closer to courtside to snap players’ photos.

Knicks management has sent the message that all of this boorishness is A-OK, and the fans have received the message loud and clear.

How much longer will it be before one player actually kills another, the dancers go topless and the puny photographers use their cameras as weapons to clear a path for a clean pic? The NBA is sending all the wrong signals, and fans seem only too happy to act upon them. I wonder what the sport’s inventor, Dr. James A. Naismith, would make of all this?

3 thoughts on “Sometimes the message sent is, indeed, the message received

  1. In reality, it’s no different than many of the other major sports. Don’t players in some way, shape or form try to intimidate their opponents?
    Isn’t this what the Raiders teams of old always try to do. Isn’t this what Ray Lewis of the Ravens does? Months ago you condoned end zone celebrations and thought it would be a good tool for the league. In effect, it’s taunting whether it’s a defensive back that’s been beaten on a pass play or whatever.
    In hockey, there’s the Broadstreet Bullies known as the Philadelphia Flyers. Didn’t they try to get the upper hand with their physical play on the boards?
    And in baseball, isn’t a brush back pitch intimidating?
    And, of course, let’s not forget Worldwide Entertainment or whatever that professional wrestling is known as these days.
    Some people will pay to see it. They want to see the blood in hockey and the teeth fall out from a hard hit.
    The rules of the game have changed. But what’s the message they are sending to the kids and the grass roots programs. Are we teaching them to be thugs?
    I’m with you about going to a game and all the interruptions. I feel like I’m doing the “wave” at Jets games. 2-3 hours of tailgating and then once you’re in the stadium, it’s non-stop for people to get up to get another beer. Don’t they know when to say when?
    Everything is getting out of hand from control of the games to salaries, etc.
    Teams are complaining because they want to build a new stadium and can’t afford it. Well, how about making the players pay for it. Heck, it’s their “house” to play in.
    Let’s take football, for example. The NFL is helping the Giants and Jets pay for a new stadium. Well, why not charge each of the players, say, $500,000. Those who make the active roster are getting paid much more than that. Teams carry 52 players, that’s $26 million per season right there. Call it an entry fee if you want.
    Many of them get signing bonuses anyway, so it’s a “tax” they need to pay.
    Why should ticket prices continue to increase especially for teams with a losing season.
    Ticket prices increased $5 per year while Bill Parcells coached the Jets. Plus, they raised parking prices. Yet, they only had one winning season.

  2. While there are a large percentage of seats occupied by people such as you and Chris, you are not the norm. Most pro sports fans are trashy, rude people who don’t know good manners or proper behavior in public from a hole in the ground. And players are largely from the same unpolished, ill-mannered background. So naturally they are going to behave accordingly and give the fans what they really want: a freakin’ brawl. It sure isn’t what it used to be when a sense of proper behavior and propriety and reputation in public was something to be cultivated regardless of your background.

  3. Pro basketball is a traveling minimum-security prison. Dr. Naismith, having been a polite Canadian, would be suitably appalled by what the game has become.