Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Visceral reactions

During the season I got into a few arguments on some message boards and at some blogs - particularly with Colts fans, defending the Patriots from accusations of classlessness. Honestly, I found the accusations kind of funny coming from fans of a team whose quarterback threw his offensive line under the bus after the playoff loss to the Steelers, and an owner who recently extorted over $400 million from the Indiana tax payers for a new stadium (sorry Theresa, I have to address this).

People bitch about how obnoxious we (Pats fans) are.

The truth?

We are obnoxious. But so are the fans of every other professional team out there.

The logos of our opponents create within us visceral reactions. Sometimes those reactions are uncalled for, we as fans go too far.

The Colts fans booing a 14-year old girl, winner of her division in the NFL's punt, pass, and kick competition was, indeed, a shameful moment, and Colts fans should be ashamed. It was classless and inappropriate. This was no $4 million per season wide out, or star quarterback (and yes, Phillip Rivers was just as inappropriate and classless to the Colts fans).

That said - it's not the worst I have heard. The stories of how Colts fans visiting Baltimore were treated during last season's playoffs - taking out over two decades worth of frustration over Jim Irsay's dad moving the Colts in the dead of night to Indianapolis on the fans from Indiana. It was a visceral reaction to people wearing the logo of a team that screwed their fan base. It was also inappropriate, classless and uncalled for.

When I lived in the greater Philadelphia area I wouldn't even go to Eagles games because of the horror stories I heard and read about the way the Philly fans treated small children in opposing jerseys.

The horror stories about the fans at Foxborough before the Krafts took over are legion.

There are no innocent fan bases.

But where children are involved, can we at least show a modicum of decorum?

As for Bob Kraft being classless?

The man bought the team in order to keep it in New England. He privately funded the stadium. He will have the girl who was booed in Indy last weekend on the field for the coin toss in New England, providing the girl, her parents, and two brothers tickets to the game on the team's dime. He has cultivated football in Israel, converting a life-long Giants fan. He has become the game's ambassador in China. Best of all - he was a fan first.

He was one of us.

Not to take away anything from Jeff Lurie, or Arthur Blank. But some people come to it as investors. Lurie is a Massachusetts native. Geogia Frontiere always seemed like a johnny-come-lately. Both have always tried to do right by their teams. But Bob Kraft was a season ticket holder going back almost to the great Flush (Pats fans know what I'm talking about).

And Kraft has always seemed like he tried to put the fans first. I can't say that about most owners.

So, before anyone goes off on the classlessness of the Pats and the team's fans, think about the last time your fan-base booed a 14-year old girl, or cursed out a family from out of town whose come to your home stadium, or your owner extorted money from the state's taxpayers in order to build a stadium.

We're all guilty. Get over it.


Suldog said...

Extremely well said.

Mainecatwoman said...

Wasn't it Francona who said, "We don't pretend to be classy" or words to that effect?

waltzingmathilda said...

I was "watching" the game on Sunday when this happened (i.e. in another room under a table painting furniture) and I heard boos when they were making this announcement. I was too lazy to get up and look and couldn't think of a reason that one of these kids would be booed, so I thought it was a figment of my imagination. I'm sorry to hear it wasn't.

Teresa said...

Hey, if you are going to call me out, spell my name right! :)

On the issue of the girl being booed...should have never happened. I can't control what the other 54,000 people do. Your post is very well written regarding how fans treat each other.

Every team's fans thinks every other team's fans are jackasses. They take every comment out of context and bring it up for years. Like none of these people can ever have a bad day. I say crap all of the time I regret and I don't have a camera following my every move.
However, my vast majority of experiences with opposing fans this year--Pats included--was very positive. I am a season ticket holder and I see many fans in different jerseys.

Just remember regarding the stadium, that it isn't just for the Colts, it is a part of a convention center upgrade. The convention business brings in millions of dollars for Indianapolis each year and we have to have more space to continue to do that. Was everything done right? No. But just know that there are two sides to every story and the truth is always somewhere in the middle.

Kevin Smith said...

My apologies. I do endeavor to be as accurate as possible.

I think, in some ways, it goes back to that line from Men In Black - A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals and you know it.

It's a great summary of the mob mentality. And that's what seems to happen at stadiums - people who are sometimes otherwise intelligent, considerate people get caught up with the stupids.