The Houston Texans and Dallas Cowboys are a disgrace to the NFL and an embarrassment to the state of Texas.
Whether you just laughed, felt a twinge of anger, wanted to argue – it doesn’t matter; what matters is that I just sparked an emotion with one short, simple, uneducated, biased sentence.
And that’s fine. That’s why we watch sports and root or don’t root for certain teams.
What’s not fine, however, is when people take this emotion and turn it into physical or verbal violence.
There are two things I fully understand about violence: it’s a normal human emotion and it draws attention. Why do you think gladiators, boxers and mixed martial artists have been so popular since the near beginning of mankind?
The concept I’m having trouble grasping is the degree to which people are taking violence for such petty reasons.
Take a glance at Brian Stow, who was beaten into a coma and now suffers brain damage for wearing the “wrong” jersey; or look into the case of Cowboy fan Leroy McKelvey, who had to use a Taser for protection against hostile Jets fans; or think back to the recent Vancouver riots after their NHL team, Canucks, lost game seven in the Stanley Cup Finals.
The list can easily continue, but the disturbing trend has to stop.
Though rivalries and friendly trash-talking make the game that much more interesting, when harm is inflicted, it’s time to re-evaluate the importance of what’s at stake.
In its rawest form, it is literally a person bouncing a ball and throwing it into a hoop, a person hitting a ball or puck with a stick, and/or a person throwing a ball to his teammate who is hoping to walk away from the inevitable punishment that he’s about to be dealt.
These simple, physical actions are not the reason we parents enroll our children into these sports.
We put them in sports to learn the only real meanings sports have – the meanings and lessons learned on the field that coincide with life off the field. i.e., good sportsmanship, teamwork and respect.
Cartoon by Valerie Russell: The Signal.
Parents should focus their understanding on this and enforce these lessons, not turn their kids into their own personal gladiators to “do whatever it takes” to win every bout they face.
Now, it’s expected that most parents will begin to live vicariously through their kids in time; you just can’t let the vicariousness consume and take over your logic and sensibility.
My increased resentment toward sports-related violence is sparked solely on one incident: a recent T-ball game I unfortunately witnessed.
Before we delve into this, let’s be clear that most T-ball leagues now accept 3-year-old children. T-h-r-e-e.
This is the age when kids are usually going to T-ball games to watch their older siblings play and to break the ice for what’s to come. Shoot, this is the age where it’s not uncommon to have some children still potty training.
This is absolutely not the age where they should be witnessing “F-bombs” being dropped and fists flying wildly because of a simple rule that didn’t matter.
To make matters a bit worse, the rule was not allowing a child who arrived late to be put in the lineup; however, the coach wanted him in the lineup so he could at least have an at-bat. He wasn’t trying to sneak him in; he wanted the child to get to play.
Allowing a child to play is what irked the opposing team’s coach and started the whole debacle.
Take a second to let that soak in. These children had to watch two grown men get separated by their fathers and police because of a technicality in the rules that benefited the children.
That is precisely what I saw that day, and that day will live with me forever in both principle and fact. Whether the kids will remember, who knows?
Relax. Chill. Breathe.
That is all I can ask. Before lashing out at the children, other parents, opposing fans or umpires, take a step back and remember what it’s all for.