The Sports World is Seriously Ill
Last night I saw Costa Rica’s Bryan Ruiz pelted with water bottles and who knows what else when attempting to take a corner kick at the Azteca in Mexico City. I thought for a moment that CONCACAF should impose a ban on future games being played there, before wondering what the consequences of such action might be. Taking action could be futile or ill-advised, and might make things worse.
Here’s an apparent example of futility. Two years ago the fans of Olympiakos — a perrenial power in Greece and the 2013 UEFA Champions — threw objects at the players of their arch rivals Panathinaikos in the fifth and final game of the Greek Basketball League playoffs. As a conseqeunce, Olympiakos was dealt a penalty, being forced to play six home games “behind closed doors in the following season.”
Last night they did it again, throwing flares on the court, and refusing pleas for order. Their team was losing 76-72 with 1:30 to play in game three of the five-game finals and their team down 2-0. Deja vu. The game was abandoned and Panathinaikos was awarded the Greek title (here’s an account from ekathimerini.com.) What will it be for Olympiakos next year? A 12 game ban? Will the fans care?
Here’s another inexcusable insult, and an example, as in the Azteca last night, of caution and discretion in taking action. Tonight it went public that Howard’s Rock, the centerpiece of the gametime ritual of the Clemson Tiger football team, was recently vandalized. That is very sad news (here are pictures of the rock before and after), and as I am a Clemson partisan, it’s also infuriating. Perhaps my feeling of fury is why news of the defacing is only surfacing two weeks after the event. Regardless of who did the deed, until proven otherwise most Clemson fans will think that a fan of their arch rivals, the South Carolina Gamecocks, was responsible. And South Carolina’s baseball stadium is where the Clemson team was playing in an NCAA regional on June 1, where tempers could have hit the boiling point. Update: this was probably not the reason for the slow release of information. According to this story, Howard’s Rock was intact on June 2, and the incident was not reported to police until June 3, after the Tigers had been sent packing from the South Carolina regional by Liberty.
Caution and discretion, and leniency, may have helped bring us to this ugly place, however. And that “caution and discretion” may be the prudent course of action in these cases is worrying indeed.
Just over two years ago, Alabama “fan” Harvey Updyke poisoned the oak trees at Toomer’s Corner — the focal point of Auburn football’s post-game celebrations. The oaks were cut down six weeks ago. Updyke was released from prison last Friday, perhaps too soon.
The sports world is seriously ill, and I have no idea how to cure it.