Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Do the Cringe

In Among the Thugs, Bill Buford says that the sickness of British hooliganism is found in its allure, its intoxicating ability to numb the sense of conscience among normally sane, well-behaved people. Ten years ago, we saw civic-minded people at the Meadowlands caught hurling ice balls onto the field during a Chargers-Giants game. This year, Jets fans are engaged in their own form of cowardice, through verbally assaulting women during halftime at Gate D.

One of the things that has enabled me to stay a football fan over the years is that I have not attended an actual game in a long time. Firstly, the modern game is simply too expensive to see. Then, based on everything that I have heard from regulars at Eagles and Jets games, the experience is horrible for anyone who does not drink, and the last drink I had was four and half years ago. (Whether that was a good decision or not remains to be seen.) And frankly, being completely drunk is an enormous asset to handling the bad football, lousy weather, and really lousy behavior from creatures resembling human form.

Here in Philly, there is always a story about how Giant fans visiting Philthy (why, why?) for the division game are pelted with rocks, garbage, beer and, in keeping with behavior the primate cage at the Philadelphia Zoo, bodily excretions.

But imeciles can flower anywhere. At gate D of Giants Stadium during Jets games, subhuman, knuckle-dragging Jets fans show their true colors by drunkenly requesting of the opposite sex that they remove their shirts.

This is a generally popular request across the culture. Whilst waiting for the New Year ring anew, a collection of revelers down below us encouraged a timid-sounding member of their group to call up to someone on a nearby balcony. "Take off your top!" I heard. I do not know if the woman obliged. In time, though, the young men sounded deflated. I presume they did not get what they wanted. I guess this was the best action they were going to get all night.

But back at the game, I suspect that the idiots in Gate D balcony are not just interested in seeing women's breasts; they're men in their 20's and 30's, interested regressing back to a lost time of mischief to which they think they are entitled, a time of being a pubescent teenage boy. I teach young men that age, and the worst of them generally lack a father figure. Among adults, though, getting drunk and excited over a public spectacle of another person's humiliation is the ultimate mark of a disempowered dumb guy. "Christ, Marty," my Dad would say to me when, as a boy, I snorted over something crude, "Get your goddamned act together." That usually shut me up.

But as with the ice ball incidents in 1995 at the Meadowlands, we would probably find a lot of well-off, intelligent professionals screaming, "Show us your tits!" It could be said that deep down even the smartest, healthiest seeming man wants to act like a goonish Neanderthal. Pour cheap beer into a stupid man, and you get what you deserve. But pour beer into a quasi-intelligent man who is suddenly feeling his buzz and feeling the freedom of a brief moment without rules, and he becomes as much a member of a mob as anyone else. It doesn't take much to awaken his inner sniveling goon.

Sure, in the last game against the Chiefs, Gate D balcony was closed. But what I find appalling is that initially the stadium security was slack in dealing with the issue, and instead they insisted that women simply not expose themselves. The flashing women were arrested, not the men, because what the men were doing was technically free speech. It's the way Catholic schools deal with sex - women bad, men randy - but what can you do? Boys will be boys. Apparently yelling, "Show us your rack!" is not the same as yelling, "Fire!"

There were women who obliged, perhaps even happily. It always amazes me how women are their own worst enemies. I'll bet a lot of these women probably don't even think football is very interesting, anyway. They're just there to make their own Neanderthals happy. I feel bad for women who actually do love football (and go to see the Jets play badly) yet find themselves unwittingly on the Gate D balcony. Which is why I will never go to a pro football game with my wife. Ever. We're fine reading the paper on Sunday and watching games on the set. It is ridiculous to even consider a Jets game worth such hassle right now, anyway. Could this season have been worse?


petey said...

"One of the things that has enabled me to stay a football fan over the years is that I have not attended an actual game in a long time."

took the tought out of my head. i've wondered, if i went to see the jets, would i give them up like i gave up the rangers after one too many games with gay-bashing bellowers in the rows behind me?

Martin Roche said...

It's a thought. Football and TV were and are a match made in heaven, and not just because the action is followed so successfully; I don't have to be privy to the thoughts and deeds of people who should probably be in rehab, if not in prison.