Expert sources from Indiana University Editors: Sports violence is a research interest of both Edward R. Hirt, an associate professor of psychology at Indiana University Bloomington, and Lynn Jamieson, professor and chair of the Department of Recreation and Park Administration in IUB's School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation. Their expertise and perspectives could be useful in followup coverage of the Indiana Pacers-Detroit Pistons brawl and future issues of sports violence. What message is the NBA sending to fans? The outrage felt by the home fans when the Indiana Pacers' Ron Artest fouled the Detroit Pistons' Ben Wallace hard is certainly understandable, said Edward R. Hirt, an associate professor of psychology at Indiana University Bloomington.

To no surprise, the fans came to their player's defense much like player's teammates did. 'However, what is interesting is the league's reaction to the players' retaliation. I'm not sure what message they " re sending to fans if their instigation and provocation can essentially knock out the best players on the opposing team for half or all of the season.' Hirt is particularly interested in the feelings and behavior of sports fans. His research has focused on the reasons fans have such profound allegiances to various teams and players and what they derive from this association.

Hirt can be reached at 812-855-4815 and. Research into fan behavior, fan influence on players and player influence on fans suggests that players are not significantly influenced by fan behavior, but fans are influenced by the behavior of players, said Lynn Jamieson, professor and chair of the Department of Recreation and Park Administration in Indiana University Bloomington's School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation. The brawling at the Pacers-Pistons game raises the issue of players breaking through the imaginary barrier between the player / contest area and the fan area. This breach, she said, has been similar in other less violent events in recent years, such as when players approach cheering fans during games to receive their enthusiastic praise, but this is really 'a first' for player-to-fan violence in terms of its intensity and lack of control.

Sports 'tend to reflect society,' said Jamieson, whose research interests include sport, terrorism and violence. 'We have a violent society where people use violence to solve problems.' Jamieson can be reached.