Sunday, November 21, 2010

On Hooliganism

Back in college, we had a saying: "Binghamton Football - Undefeated since 1946."

We said this because we did not have a football team. We had a pretty good sense of humor, though. Plaster that slogan across t-shirts and head out to the basketball game where we imported violent felons for their specific athletic prowess.

We were rather skillful at creating a quick fervor when it looked like we actually had the opportunity to win something important. I remember one season when men's soccer was doing really well, right after the start of the basketball team's Alighierian descent into shame and disgrace; quite literally overnight we wrangled a crew of die-hard Binghamton soccer hooligans complete with original football chants and songs, which published in the next-day's campus paper so that everyone would know the words.

I think we lost that season pretty lamely, but the lesson learned was that without a football team to focus all our attentions on, we could very easily jump ship every time a team was led away in disgrace and scandal and switch affiliation to a new up-and-coming team. (I never cared, but I probably would have drawn the line at painting my face to root for women's track and field.)

It's too bad major cities don't have that kind of ability. Pro-team fans don't have the ability to stop caring when their team is embroiled in scandal or, like the Mets, just continuously blow every important opportunity they're given.

My father used to say his three favorite New York teams were the Jets, the Mets, and the Rockettes. Well, at least the Jets have been doing okay, lately. They won against Cleveland this week.

I'll give you a moment to go back and actually read those links you might have reasonably assumed to be sports statistics.

Yes, a drunken Browns fan speared an 8 year old boy because "he" (read: "his father") was a Jets fan.

Seriously? Please, God, tell me you were aiming for the father. Tell me you were aiming for the larger Jets fan in the happy family and due to your enhanced inebriation merely lost your equilibrium and tackled about eighteen inches too far to one side.

Tell me it was a case of mistaken identity. Tell me instead that you had been harassed all game long by a rowdy midget in a green t-shirt and you thought that the parking lot after the game was the perfect opportunity to show that caustic little bastard he couldn't get away with treating other people like that just because it'd be one-sided to fight a little person.

Tell me that the only reason people were throwing food at this family was because they looked hungry. Can you tell me that, Cleveland?

The worst of it is the family isn't accepting any of the apology offers the NFL is sending them. The Jets offered to fly them out to New Jersey to watch a game from a luxury suite. They declined. The Browns showed up asking to do anything. They declined. His dad asked the kid if he still enjoyed the game he saw and he said yes, but he doesn't like Browns Stadium.

Do you understand, Cleveland? You're breeding hooligans and it's the type of behavior you're supposed to prevent, not apologize for. The family doesn't want anything from you. All they want is for this to hurt.

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