“It’s only a game.”
These are words that can trigger many emotions: disgust, anger and objection to name a few.
However, one that should come to mind that is far simpler and requires far less effort.
The world of sports is filled with different levels of fandom, some of which we can’t comprehend. But never should a sports story become worldwide front-page news.
On Feb. 1, 74 people were killed after a soccer match in the Egyptian capitol of Cairo. The two rival teams, al-Ahly and al-Masry, and their supporters have had a long-standing rivalry. After their home side took a 3-1 win over the visitors, al-Masry fans stormed the field and chased players and supporters of the al-Ahly team and cornered them in at one end of the stadium and began throwing rocks and bottles at them.
People were trampled to death, beaten brutally, or stabbed while an outnumbered contingent of police and military personnel stood by doing little to nothing to deescalate the situation.
Now while I acknowledge this horrific scene comes from a country that has been in political and social unrest for quite some time, this was not just simply another clash of soccer hooligans. And while I understand the in’s and out’s of heated rivalries, this was not just a random event of temporary loss of control between two sides.
This was an open war on a field in which a win or loss and points in the standings was supposed to be the only thing waged, not life and death.
Back in the US, there have also been a few instances recently of fans crossing the lines due to sporting events.
Flash back just a few weeks ago to the NFC Championship game between the eventual Super Bowl victors, the New York Giants, and the San Francisco 49ers on Jan. 22.
Anyone who saw or heard about this game undoubtedly heard about the pair of foul-ups that 49er return man Kyle Williams suffered that played a big factor in the 49ers failing to make it to their first Super Bowl in 17 years.
Hey, I know it and you know it, the guy blew it and that’s all there is to it. You know who else knows it? Kyle Williams himself.
Within hours of the 49ers loss, however, the second year player out of Arizona State received thousands of death threats, some coming via Twitter:
@KyleWilliams_10. You should jump off the golden gate bridge for that one
Jim Harbaugh, please give @KyleWilliams_10 the game ball. And make sure it explodes when he gets in his car
@KyleWilliams_10 I hope you, youre wife, kids and family die, you deserve it
These are just a sample of some of the things sent to Williams, all of which are an absolute disgrace and have no place within our society, much less the realm of sports.
Recount the March 31, 2011 incident in which a San Francisco Giants fan Bryan Stow was attacked while leaving a game at Dodger Stadium.
The attack, which was unprovoked, came when Stow was beaten by a pair of Dodger fans and resulted in doctors placing the 42-year-old man into a medically induced coma due to severe skull and brain injuries.
Nearly a year later, Stow still is recovering and undergoing extreme therapy. While some things may return to normal for Stow and his entire family and followers, Stow still continues to have trouble with memory, mobility and basic functions such as eating. Costs of his ongoing medical treatment have surpassed 50 million dollars.
His life was forever changed, all because he was wearing the wrong jersey in parking lot of a rival team.
These three instances of violence surrounding sporting events should serve as serious reminders to all of us that there are far more important things in life than the sports we play or watch.
I know it’s cliché and I risk infuriating some, but these words may never have carried more meaning or made more sense given the recent trends of violence.
“It’s only a game.”