Ban This Fan

Flipping off an athlete, as Filomena Tobias did to Joakim Noah, is beyond OK.

There's a lot of humor going around about this picture of a Heat fan giving Joakim Noah the middle finger. Behind  it is the notion that athletes are paid to take ill-treatment from the fans. Surely they are paid to take some ill-treatment—trash talk, booing etc. Flipping the bird in a player's face strikes me as taking it too far.

I imagine that had Joakin Noah gave the middle finger to Heat fans on the way out, he would have been fined. And rightly so. Perhaps I'm reacting to the angle or the still picture. But this strikes me as an actual invasion of a person's space, and an invitation for violence. Noah did the right thing and is saying all the right things. But they should strip Filomena Tobias (the fan) of her season tickets.

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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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