Flagrant Foul: Racism in 'the Ron Artest Fight'

60 Pages Posted: 25 Jun 2006


With under a minute left in the Indiana Pacers-Detroit Pistons basketball game, Pacer Ron Artest was called for a hard foul on Detroit star Ben Wallace, prompting Wallace to shove Artest forcefully with two hands. Thus began a brawl that would engulf the teams, the fans, and eventually the NBA, NBPA and the sports world nation-wide. Media reaction to the fight was clear in its focus on Artest but incautious in its entrance into the cultural contest, contributing to an acknowledgement that the incident was emblematic that lacked an understanding of what precisely it reflected.

Flagrant Foul focuses on the influence of racial bias in framing "the Ron Artest Fight" and its impact in the severe suspensions that followed. Criminological or economic explanations are lacking, lending clarity to the racial dimensions of the media and league responses. More, the reflection of market bias in addressing player misconduct is widespread, with racially charged incidents attracting increased scrutiny and violence against women and other ills often going unaddressed. League policies should be reformed to be less discretionary and more proportionate to the severity of the offenses even if, as in the steroids debate, federal legislative action is necessary.

Keywords: sports, athletes, crime, suspensions, NBA, Artest, race, racism, discrimination

Suggested Citation

Williams, Jeffrey A., Flagrant Foul: Racism in 'the Ron Artest Fight'. UCLA Entertainment Law Review, Vol. 13, p. 55, 2006. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=911321

Jeffrey A. Williams (Contact Author)

Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy, LLP ( email )

One Chase Manhattan Plaza
New York, NY 10005
United States

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