More pellet madness

Sports blotter: "something we don't condone" edition
By MATT TAIBBI  |  October 25, 2006

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IT’S DEFINITELY SOMETHING WE DON’T CONDONE: BB-gun incidents are rivaling Taser incidents in the sports world.
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I’m not sure if anyone knows what to make of this one. For the past several years, the use of pellet guns has flown below the radar of the national sporting press; now, it’s apparent that there’s an epidemic of collegiate athletes firing such weapons in public.

The phenomenon proved true again this weekend after the University of Louisville’s lethargic win against Syracuse. Two of the UL Redbirds, 22-year-old Chris Vaughn and 20-year-old Brandon “Scott” Long, returned from New York and celebrated by riding around outside the Haunted Hotel in downtown Louisville. That is, they drove a Jeep in circles and fired pellet guns at passers-by. Apparently a security guard from the Hotel (which incidentally isn’t a hotel; it’s a theme park where tourists pay money to enter a dark house and get chased by chainsaw-wielding actors) became annoyed and called the cops when the pair of real-life antagonists started picking off customers with pellets.

The police arrived soon after and, with the help of the Hotel security guard, the UL players were apprehended. Said coach Bobby Petrino: “It’s definitely something we don’t condone.”

Interesting sports-crime rhetorical question: at what point after players cross the criminal threshold does a college coach not say, “It’s something we don’t condone”? Clearly, if your tight end goes into a sorority house with a pole-axe and skewers eight co-eds, you don’t need to inform the press that “It’s definitely something we don’t condone.” If your point guard pulls a Nate Newton and gets caught driving trash bags of weed across Alabama, you don’t need to tell SportsCenter that it’s “definitely not something we condone.” But if your Heisman-candidate quarterback commits a couple of fetish robberies — stealing a pair of panties, say, out of the dorm room of some Japanese freshman while she’s at class — the coach might very well say, “It’s, uh, definitely something we don’t condone.” Because you might wonder at first, “Do we condone that? Can we condone that?”

Pellet-gun shootings fall into a category of crime that college-sports coaches don’t reflexively dismiss as wrong. Unfortunately, these crimes are becoming increasingly common, as has been noted often in this space. In the past few years, we’ve seen a gang of UConn football players shoot up the parking lot of a Willimantic convenience store, two football players from St. Anselm’s college shoot a bunch of skateboarders in New Hampshire, former USC tackle Winston Justice assault a fellow student in a campus garage, and OSU basketball recruit James Lighty (a would-be teammate of upcoming college-basketball sensation Greg Oden) busted for pegging a 55-year-old jogger. Earlier this summer, Tennessee defensive back Marsalous Johnson was nailed by police for aiming a pellet gun at an off-duty Tennessee park ranger while driving on I-40. Still, the archetypal college pellet case remains Oklahoma State offensive lineman Adam Gourley, who shot a series of pedestrians Charles Whitman–style from the well-defended vantage point of his dorm window.

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