I am a football fan, and it gets harder and harder. One reason it’s hard is I grew up in Kansas City and the Chiefs are a lousy team.
Other than than, though, the violence of the game and the bloodthirst we’ve created as fans has finally reached a point for me where I am not as excited about a football game as I once was.
For the Chiefs, the fans have been fed up with the lack of progress of the team, particularly their quarterback, Matt Cassel. The Chiefs gambled on giving Cassel a huge contract when the guy has hardly any experience. He filled in for Tom Brady one year when Brady went down with an injury (ironically while playing the Chiefs). The Patriots went 11-5 or something like that. But let’s be honest, I could have played quarterback for the Patriots and gone 11-5 that year.
But yesterday, Cassel went down with an injury late in the game and something inevitable happened. The fans at Arrowhead Stadium, the home crowd, cheered. That was ugly. But it is what we’ve produced as a country and culture. It was ugly, but what else could honestly be expected?
Chiefs’ play Eric Winston went on the record after the game ripping the crowd for booing, and rightfully so. Yet, even in his analysis, he got it wrong.
“We are athletes. We are not gladiators,” Winston said. “This isn’t the Roman Colisseum.” (That’s the KC Star spelling, by the way.)
He’s wrong because this is what football HAS come to professionally. It IS bloodsport and it is only a matter of time before we haul a body off the field that goes down because of contact. A high school player this weekend collapsed on the field and later died because of a heart condition.
This is the condition of the game. Right now Winston is upset about fans cheering that a player is injured. Right now pundits will get on the fans for that kind of behavior. But this is the state of the game. This is what fans want. They want hard hits that wear players out in a few years and toss them on the trash heap by the age of 30. They want players they don’t like taken out, even if it’s by injury.
Sorry, Mr. Winston, but you are gladiators.