FLORHAM PARK, NJ — After going 150-plus days without a single snap of football being seen by any Americans, you’d think fans would rejoice to see their favorite teams play bitter rivals. Instead it ignited one of the worst football brawls the NFL has ever seen. During the Oakland Raiders – San Francisco 49ers game, a vicious brawl broke out in the stands that lasted over two minutes. This, coming off the heels of a San Francisco Giants fan being beaten into a coma on Opening Night by a few Los Angeles Dodgers fans, is hardly how America’s most beloved sport should be celebrated in its return.
I know this site is usually used to highlight the highs and lows of the New York Jets, but there are some stories that transcend the lines of individual teams and force us, as Americans, to take a look at our actions. This is one of those stories.
Forty-Niners running back Frank Gore said it best: “I think some fans take it too serious. It’s [just] a football game.” It is just a game. And we all do take it too seriously. From the amount of coverage that the sport commands, to the effect it has on our moods and emotions, even to the pay rate the players receive for playing “just a game”. But then again, it’s easy for me to state that as someone who’s attempting to make a career to covering the NFL.
The NFL, as with all sports, were created to entertain the public, bring together the community and inflame emotion — sparking a sense of nationalism as well as local pride. And that has never stopped, in fact, that sense of local pride has turned into local egotism. Sports bring people together and also creates divides amongst their fans. Don’t think so? Go walk through the Bronx in a David Ortiz jersey at roughly 11:39 pm EST and then get back to me. Better yet, tell a group of Giants fans that the Jets are New York’s new team.
Arguments are what makes sports so intoxicating. It’s what gives people like me a platform to voice my opinion and hear those who agree and disagree. But when the line gets blurred between competitive banter and aggravated assault, it makes one question the level of importance our culture places on sport.
A local rivalry that was once looked at in anticipation is now being canceled indefinitely. 49ers CEO Jed York has recommended that NFL cancels the annual pre-season match-up between the two Bay Area teams indefinitely. Additionally DUI checkpoints will be located outside the stadium as well as heightened security inside and outside the stadium, making themselves more visible to fans in attendance. This statement was issued by 49ers vice president of stadium operations and security Jim Mercurio issued this statement after the unsightly brawl:
“To those of you who decide to come to our games, and it really doesn’t matter what jersey you may be wearing, or what hat you may wear, or what team you may support, your behavior on Saturday night is not welcome. Don’t come here. You’re not welcome.”
His words are echoed by those who still believe that football games are not about getting loaded at tailgates and slurring profanities at rivaled fans, but rather enjoying the game with not only fellow fans but family members as well. For Brian Stow’s family, whom still hope their husband and father recovers from severe brain damage after that frightful night leaving Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles those words have come too late.
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