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Rick Pitino Rips The Smoking Leagues For Smoking

He’s absolutely right to defend the athletes and children who have to deal with this but many Greek fans are going to be unhappy with him for saying it.

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NCAA Basketball Tournament - Second Round - Michigan v Louisville
NDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 19: Head coach Rick Pitino of the Louisville Cardinals reacts to their 69-73 loss to the Michigan Wolverines during the second round of the 2017 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 19, 2017 in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

We’ve made jokes over the years about what we call the Smoking Leagues, by which we mean (primarily) European leagues where fans light up with abandon inside the gym and, on some occasions, people on the bench do as well.

There was a time that this was true stateside as well. Cameron used to have a blue cloud during games before fans were asked to limit smoking to the concourse, then outside and finally told no smoking period.

As Rick Pitino discovered after his move to coach in Greece, European smokers have not all moved as far as the concourse yet and he’s not very happy about it: “I smoke cigars on a golf course, but there’s nobody else around. But you’re in an arena, and 10,000 are smoking and the players are choking. So, sooner or later, you’ve got to say: ‘Hey, man, we’re at an athletic event and I’m going to discipline myself and we’ll wait until halftime. And I’m going to go out and blow my brains out with cigarettes.’ That’s your option. But not when there are athletes and there are little kids who want to come to the game. ... But they don’t care about young people and the athletes who are breathing it in.’“

Sounds like Pitino is about ready to give up on his European adventure.

Obviously an arena full of second hand smoke is a bad idea but smoking at least is relatable if not desirable. We’ve all seen people smoke.

But what’s up with the flares?

Who lights flares in a gym? That seems to us to be more than a bit nuts. Cigarette smoke can kill you in time but lighting flares in a crowded arena is just begging for disaster.

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