A couple of years ago, a friend and I were talking about attending Kansas City Chiefs football games at Arrowhead Stadium.
I mentioned to my friend, who happens to own a well-known bar in Kansas City, that at the last game I attended, I was bothered by the behavior of many fans. Not all of them, mind you, but enough of them to take some of the enjoyment out of watching the game. My friend nodded his head and said that until a few years ago, he owned Chiefs’ season tickets.
“But I dropped them,” he said. “I was sitting by people who, if they were in our bar, we would refuse to serve.”
I don’t know if alcohol played a role in the behavior in evidence at the game Sunday, but I suspect it did. At least I’m hoping it did. I’m hoping that what some Chiefs’ fans did Sunday afternoon was not something they would do sober.
What some fans did Sunday was about as classless a thing as I’ve heard in all my years watching professional sports. It would make Oakland Raiders’ fans seem like Emily Post graduates.
While quarterback Matt Cassel was sprawled out on the ground after suffering what has been described as a concussion, many in the hometown crowd cheered and continued cheering as Matt was led off the field.
The Chiefs are not having a great season. Actually, they are not even having a mediocre season, and as the team’s highly paid starting quarterback, Matt is catching most of the blame. I understand that. It comes with the territory when you play quarterback in the NFL. But getting blamed for a poor season is one thing. Folks cheering because you are lying unconscious on the ground after a vicious hit is something else entirely. Matt didn’t sign up for that, and he didn’t deserve it.
Some folks in the Kansas City media have tried to argue that some of the fans weren’t cheering because Matt got hurt but because backup quarterback Brady Quinn was coming into the game. I’m sorry, but I don’t get that distinction.
To be fair, not all the fans at Sunday’s game cheered when Matt got hurt. I would like to think, as a matter of fact, that those cheering while Matt was led off the field were in a small minority. But, apparently, they were a loud minority.
After the game, Eric Winston, one of Matt’s teammates, went on a bit of a tirade about the fans’ behavior when the quarterback got hurt. Eric told reporters that he has “never been so embarrassed in my life to play football than at that moment right there.”
I thought Eric’s statements were on the money. If anything, Eric was too easy on the fans who cheered Matt’s injury. Typically, some Kansas City media folks didn’t share my opinion. Several in the K.C. media said Eric was out of line and wrong to imply that everyone at Arrowhead Stadium cheered when Matt went down.
It’s true that not everyone in the stadium cheered when Matt got hurt, but I think some folks are missing Eric’s greater point: It’s unacceptable to cheer when someone gets hurt. Boo a bad performance, or criticize players after a loss, Eric said, but don’t cheer when they get hurt. Don’t take joy in injury.
“We have a lot of problems as a society if people think that’s OK,” Eric said.
I would like to think that what happened Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium will cause folks to pause and reflect. I would like to think that what happened Sunday might usher in an era of civility and common courtesy at sports events.
I also would like to think that pigs can fly.
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