Archived Story

Fans need to control themselves

Published 10:35am Tuesday, September 17, 2013

As I was driving to work last week, I encountered a person named Phyllis, in decibels sufficient to rival the Gulfstreams that carry our football coaches from place to place.
I’m sure you “know” her, in the same way it seems we all know Shane, Charles from Reeltown, and their ascendant ringleader, Paul Finebaum.
After hearing Phyllis scream into her phone about my alma mater, the weekend’s opponent Texas A&M and the necessity of gravely injuring quarterback Johnny Manziel, I worry about the mental health of some supporters of our two storied institutions of football and education.
Things turned out all right, I’m happy to say, in Saturday’s contests. Bama contained Manziel just enough to hang on for the victory. Despite a scare, Auburn also survived against Mississippi State.
But I’m sure if I turned on my radio right now, the speakers would again be dripping with some fan’s spittle-flecked rantings.
I know this is an area all-too-familiar with over excited super fans. The ultimate specimen, being Harvey “The Oak Assassin” Updyke, who gave his full confession as “Al from Dadeville” on the aforementioned radio show.
I’ve been increasingly alarmed at the show’s recent change of distributor. At least under the old WJOX label, it was more of a regional curiosity, a mostly hidden corner where our crazies could interact. Now that he’s joined The Worldwide Leader in Sports, though, folks nationwide get a window into the people we’d just as soon keep hidden in the basement.
What is it about the games we play that attracts so many volatile supporters? Some would blame college football, but that’s won’t do. A guy was beaten into a coma last year over baseball’s rivalry between the Dodgers and Giants. The NFL has its Cleveland Dog Pound and Oakland Raiders Nation crazies. Even hockey has some fans that clearly go overboard, though they mostly live north of the border.
It’s not an American thing, either. Some tales of excess by fans of the world’s football — we call it soccer — would make even the wildest Bamer or Barner blush. Actual assassinations, riots and hate crimes have sprung out of those rivalries.
I’ve seen a few who even get crazy at sports of a high school or even peewee level, though thankfully the social stigma of such behavior in front of little ones often keeps things under control. Or so I thought.
But then, during week one of the high school season, some coaches from Jasper and Cullman decided their teams’ rivalry needed fisticuffs more than fight songs. The splash it made on YouTube and the various sports websites once again put our fair state in the crosshairs of the same crass jokes they were prone to make in the first place.
I know it’s a little hackneyed, but for these obsessions we all have, which most folks admit are “just a game,” would it be so hard to actually behave that way?
Goodwin is a staff writer for The Outlook.

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