DY: In Just a Few Words (#112)
When did it all get so serious?
Football is a violent game. So, too, are hockey and, far too often, basketball (which I frequently refer to as hockey without pads). In many respects, we find ourselves re-living the Wild West. But, this is not a blog about guns. Rather, it’s about violence in sports - both on and off the field.
Very recently - in the state up north - there was a terrible incident when both the Michigan State and University of Michigan football teams were using the same tunnel to leave the field after MSU fell in Ann Arbor. Most of us have seen the video by now. A couple of Michigan players were pushed, shoved, punched and kicked repeatedly by a group of MSU student athletes. It was really ugly. As of this writing, seven MSU football players have been charged; six with misdemeanor charges and one with a felony. Additionally, MSU has been fined $100,000 by the Big Ten Conference.
We’ve also had our share of out-of-control incidents here in the best location in the nation. Several years ago, our star Cleveland Browns player took his helmet off and used it to whack the quarterback from our most hated rival, the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Another time, a fan was arrested for throwing a bottle at the team owner.
Worst of all was the 2001 late-game disaster when officials (two plays later) reversed a previous ruling. How do you do that? Bottles went flying. The officials had to run for safety.
I was there on a frigid day in 1981 when the Cleveland Browns fell to the visiting Oakland Raiders. An errant pass was intercepted just when the local guys were about to score and win. The nearly 78,000 fans who were there fell into total silence. When they had recovered from their shock, frustrated ticket holders launched glass bottles as they reacted to yet another Browns disappointment.
But, it doesn’t have to be this way.
From 1953-57, I sold programs at all of the Princeton University games. In those days, Princeton was often ranked in the Top 10. Yes, an Ivy League school. Plenty of fire water was consumed, but no nastiness before, during or after the games by the players or the crowds.
Which gets me to the Army-Navy game of 1961. I was there. Each team wanted to win, but the teams, coaches and fans were models of discipline as they cheered loudly, but behaved perfectly not only during the game, but for all of the traditional pre- and post-game traditions. That said, did you know this game had a four-year hiatus from 1894-1898 because a couple of fans nearly got into a shooting match (yes, with guns) as the inmates just about took over the asylum?
Hey, fellas, let’s not lose sight that it’s only a game.
Or, at least that’s the way it’s supposed to be.
My father was a West Point graduate. His best friend over the years was a graduate of the United States Naval Academy. Imagine that. A close friendship with the hated enemy.
Next thing you know, I’ll create a friendship with somebody from Dook.
DY: In Just a Few Words is a blog that comes out when something needs to be said or every Tuesday - whichever comes first. Davis Young is a communications professional who adds 50+ years of experience and perspective to issues of the day. His emphasis in DY: In Just a Few Words will be humor (a touch of sarcasm here, a pinch of facetiousness there...). Once in a while, he will touch on something a bit more serious - but hopefully not too deep or depressing.
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