Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Football Fans Transitioning
Into Dangerous Fanatics

U.S. men's national team striker DaMarcus Beasley's very expensive BMW was fire-bombed yesterday in Glasgow, Scotland. Beasley, of course, is a first-team regular with SPL leaders Rangers.

Sounds like Beasley was targeted in the attacks. The Sun reports that Beasley heard tires screeching outside his home and then he saw his car ablaze. This was the second attack on Beasley; in 2008 his car was vandalized and his home broken into.

It's hard to say whether this was a racially motivated attack, or just a sick 'Gers fan taking out some frustration on Beasley. The Sun also says that other Rangers players Allan McGregor, Kevin Thomson and Kenny Miller have had their cars similarly attacked.

This is nasty stuff. The word fan, we forget, is short for fanatic. But there's always been a line that isn't crossed. You can boo, be rude and even hate a guy's performance on the field. Fans are emotionally invested in their clubs; it's a passion that most Americans don't reach with their teams. We, here in the States, think we have emotional ties to our favorite teams, but it's not cultural; it's not generational. And I guess when I hear stories like this one, I'm glad it's not.

I'd hate to think that I have such an attachment to a team that I would take a poor performance so personally that I would lash out with personal violence against a player. But then again, I'm emotionally stable, unlike these animals. My ego isn't so large that I think I have some entitlement to enact revenge against a pro athlete because he didn't play well on Sunday -- or maybe cost me a few bucks in a lost bet.

Football is getting fucked up. Look at poor Salvador Cabanas, shot in the head in the bathroom of a nightclub because some ass didn't think he was scoring enough goals. Cabanas may not walk again, if he lives. Doctors are optimistic, but they just don't know yet. But who goes to such an extreme? And why?

Andres Escobar of Colombia. Remember him? Colombia's 1994 World Cup team. Murdered in his home country after he had the misfortune of redirecting a US pass into his own goal and costing Colombia a chance to advance in the tournament. What was Escobar's sin? Trying to make a play he gets paid to make? He lunged. He stretched. He got a boot to the ball. He wanted it to go out of bounds. It didn't. The stakes were high, but there's no excuse for this kind of mortal sin. What compels someone to leave their sanity and forget that players such as Escobar, Cabanas and Beasley are PEOPLE.

You don't treat PEOPLE this way, no matter how many tickets you buy, how many jerseys you wear and how many tears you shed when they don't play well and your team loses.

Fucking losers.

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