Pre-game brawls in parking lots. Waves of projectiles hurled at someone wearing a rival jersey. Violence erupting in the grandstands. These acts have become acceptable (and, at times, expected) at any given major league sporting event. And, as a result of our nation’s increasingly nonchalant attitude of ‘boys will be boys’, this behavior has begun to slither its way into other areas of our culture. From small towns to metropolitan sprawls, police nationwide have all reported a disturbing trend: a rise in violence stemming from over-enthusiastic fans.
Gone are the days when good-natured ribbing over a rival interest was met with a hearty laugh or, perhaps, a friendly wager. The drunken brute attendee of your father’s days (the one whose loud criticisms of outcomes or performances might get him escorted to the nearest exit) has been replaced by the drunken brute with a knife or gun who is willing to risk life in prison on behalf of his brand loyalty.
While media coverage of these events is relatively scarce, one story has emerged out of Illinois:
A recent performance of La Boheme at Chicago’s Metropolitan Opera ended in the arrest of six and the hospitalization of one. An investigation by police determined that the catalyst for the incident was what they termed ‘team loyalty’.
One witness was Jasper J. Delacroix, husband to Madeline Meinholt, heir to the Meinholt Manhole Cover Design firm. In attendance with Sindy Staxx, a young woman he began to call his Consulting Economic Marketing Engineer Consultant before introducing her as his adoptive niece from out of town, Mr. Delacroix described the incident. “Well, it began just after the second act. A young upstart by the name of Whitehend stood up and claimed that, while La Boheme is a wonderful opera, that it ‘did not hold water’, I believe the exact phrase was, to anything penned by Pagliacci. Immediately following this statement, Whitehend and some of his chums engaged in what some have called high-fiving.
“Well, it was then that Arthur Merriwhether, chairman of the opera’s board of supervisors, stood and said something that was a complete contradiction of young Whitehend’s comment. In a matter of moments, Merriwhether and Whitehend were rolling down the aisle engaged in fisticuffs like common factory workers arguing over a two dollar bill. Well, everyone in our box seat, including myself and Miss Staxx, began to watch the melée instead of the opera. So engrossed were we by this act of barbarianism that we completely forgot about Musetta’s Waltz.”
Ushers were immediately called in to calm the spectacle and the opera resumed.
Still, police say that tempers continued to flare and ferment. Once the fourth act was complete, old wounds were opened and soon all Hades broke loose.
Fueled by pride, competitiveness and the complimentary 2006 Woodburn Chardonnay served during intermission, all parties involved wanted to have both the final word and the upper hand.
Officer Jerome Carter was one of the first on the scene. “As the crowd spilled out into the street, it seems this Whitehend guy and his buddies took off their jackets to show the letters ‘NP’ monogrammed across their shirt pockets. NP is for the Northside Pagliacci’s. Those guys are bad news. They were all hopped up on wine and culture and looking for trouble.”
“Whitehend spotted this other man, Merriwhether, getting into a reserved town car and said something to him, I don’t know what really. Anyway, Merriwhether strolls over to the Northside P’s all calm and collected, acting like maybe he was going to try to make peace, ya know? Then, out of nowhere, this Merriwhether reaches into his overcoat, pulls out a blackjack and clocks this Whitehend over the head and down he goes. Immediately, the Northside crew went to work on Merriwhether. I mean, the last place you wanna be is getting stomped by 4-5 guys who don’t care if they get a scuff mark on their Salvatore Ferragamo’s. That’s some scary stuff, ya know? I’d rather be shot in the face than be on the receiving end of that patent leather smackdown. So, anyway, then the wife of this Merriwhether comes over and goes ballistic on the North P’s, hitting ‘em with her purse. Later, we find out that she had had a flask in there, so that thing probably hurt like hell.”
All parties involved were released the next day on their own recognizance. When asked why no charges were filed, officer Carter shrugged, “Every one of these folks were wealthy and white. Do you even have to ask?”
This is only one story, one incident, but representative of a larger problem facing our society. If good sportsmanship and open mindedness are allowed to become as extinct in our modern culture as, say, lawn darts or CB radio slang, then we have failed future generations. Gentlemanly arguments and civil disagreements, in the years to come, will suffer the same fate as the character of Mimi in La Boheme. That’s right, consumption. It will all die from consumption.
Let that sink in and maybe you’ll think twice before letting your next viewing party go from hot wings and potato chips to mayhem and bloodshed.