The Holy Huddle: "Metta" Cognition And The Rush To Speak Out

Each week in The Holy Huddle, Doug Hankins takes a look at the goings on of the sports world from a distinctly Christian perspective. 

Metacognition is the process of thinking about what you are thinking about.  It is what James 3:8 is referring to when it calls believers to tame their tongue—think before you speak (And Tweet)!  And, it is an important discipline for the Christian life.

Consider the recent travesty from April 22. Los Angeles Lakers’ forward Metta World Peace (MWP), better known as Ron Artest, violently (not to mention recklessly and senselessly) elbowed Oklahoma City guard James Harden in the back of the head after scoring on an emphatic dunk.  MWP was immediately ejected and Harden was carted off to the locker room where doctors later confirmed his concussion.

Because the play occurred in the first half, the remainder of the double-overtime game became an interesting case study in the rush to speculation and judgement in the twitterverse.  While it is true that MWP has a history of violent acts during the course of a NBA game, the web response was nonetheless alarming. Consider the following tweets:

Some tweeters determined MWP’s suspension length:

  • @CaseyCornett: Here it is, the Facebook page to suspend Metta World Peace for the remainder of the 2011/2012 season. RT if you agree:http://www.facebook.com/SuspendWorldPeace
  • @undecided: MWP should b out 1st round. Good read on what likely will happen
  • @ArashMarkazi: Ric Bucher said he generally guesses low on suspensions but he can’t see Metta World Peace getting less than 10 games.
  • @AlexKennedyNBA: How long will Metta World Peace be suspended? Experts in Las Vegas set the line at 7.5 games, according to Bovada.
  • @DickieV: Totally agree with opin blatant attack by @MettaWorldPeace MUST be penalized by NBA office big time.
  • @WhitlockJason: Ron Artest is too unstable to play in the league. I’d consider a lifetime ban. Seriously. Next guy he hurts should sue the league.

Some attacked MWP:

@ZekeBaez: Ron Artest you’re a disgrace. All #Lakers fans should be absolutely embarrassed for cheering you on after that “foul”

Some defended MWP:

  • @marcel_mutoni: Important to recall that Ron Artest saw someone get killed on a basketball court as a youngster. He’s, um, different.
  • @ShadBrricks: Ron Artest Is The Realest NBA Player Ever.
  • HHype_Jay ‏ @Jay_Laker: If James Harden can forgive Metta, it baffles me that everyone else is in such an uproar about it.

One prominent sports reporter attacked Harden:

  • @RealSkipBayless: Obviously, Artest’s elbow was intentional, extremely dangerous, way out of bounds. But James Harden wasn’t completely blameless in this.

Finally, some used the incident as an opportunity for cynicism and political stirring: 

  • @caneswatch: Not to take this too far, but in Florida James Harden would have had the right to pull a gun from his beard and shoot Ron Artest, right?
  • @NotBillWalton: Luckily for James Harden, his Beard has a protective sheen coating that not even the evil Ron Artest can penetrate with a vicious elbow.
  • @WhitlockJason: let’s not rush to judgment here. Maybe JamesHarden was wearing a hoodie. We really don’t know. Let the facts come out.

Compare these responses to the response of Grantland.com writer Rembert Browne:

While I respect an expert’s “expert” opinion, this is one of those times when everyone should just admit defeat and become comfortable with the phrase, “I just don’t know.”

Interestingly, the NBA has taken it’s time in coming to a decision on a MWP punishment. This writer thinks the NBA is wise to act in this manner and that Christians should take note.
  • Remember, MWP acted impulsively and James Harden was hurt as a result.
  • The twitterverse and blogosphere typed impulsively and people’s reputations and feelings were hurt as a result.
The NBA has acted methodically, with purpose, and with the aim of gathering all the facts before making a reasoned decision that will affect a man’s livelihood and career.  If MWP is harmed, it will be as a result of his own actions—not by the NBA’s impulsiveness.
The NBA’s decision making strategy provides a helpful illustration of James 3:8.  The organization thinks about what it is thinking about before it makes any action.  I hope that Christians will adopt this discipline.  I hope the same for Metta World Peace.

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