Gaming One’s Life Away

High pressure, mega-dollar professional sports have recently become a sort of on-court morality play of late. Issues far beyond who wins and who loses a particular game have been forced on the gaming and non-gaming public alike.

At a Big-12 basketball game, a chunky, non-athletic “fan” injected himself into the game in his usual vulgar style. He is a “super-fan” who travels great distances each year to “get in the head” of opposing players by the use of vile language and obscene gestures. He must have succeeded beyond his wildest dreams in this one game, because a visiting player left the court, came over to him and gave him a push that would have mashed the life out of any aging mosquito. The player was not ejected but he was later given a three game suspension, during his conference schedule. This was a drastic penalty for his team.

So, the “fan” won.

And the game lost.

Far too often in gaming, like in life,someone who has no right to do what they do other than their presence and gall, inject themselves into the game in vile and vulgar ways. They are not conditioned athletes, accredited coaches or certified officials. They are just people who want the attention they get from being “superfans.” They want to be part of the game though they have no place in the actual sport.

What do you do with situations like this one, which are all too common?

I have been called really bad things by fans (and some coaches and players) as a game official. I freely admit I miss some calls and I pass on some calls I could make, technically, because the “offense” does not affect the game directly. No one comes to the game to watch the official work, but the official must do the work fairly and responsibly.

Here are some things I wish some “fans” and players would act on:

  • Fans don’t belong on the court or the field. I cringe when, in a college basketball game, the crowd rushes the court after a big win. This is a disaster waiting to happen. Fans do not belong on the court, either in person or proxy.
  • No one belongs where they have not paid to be at a sporting event. Players and officials have paid a price to be on the playing surface. They should stay there as long as it is appropriate, without physical threat or molestation. Fans have paid to be in the stands, either by remitting an entry fee or driving to a non-pay game. They should stay in the stands, cheer urgently for the players and leave the rest of the game alone.
  • Players and officials should leave the stands alone, without any interaction at all.
  • Fans who irresponsibly interject themselves into the game(s) should be removed and made to stay away from games until they can mature. I know one fellow who got a fiver year ban from a local children’s recreation league because of his confrontational behavior. Upon the end of his ban, he sent word (after five full seasons away) that he would be at his first game on such and such a day and time, he would take the full measure of the officials and he would “get personal.” I was the Crew Chief for the game. He showed up and was as good as his word. I stopped the game three minutes in, had him removed from the area and he went back on ban, where I think he remains to this day. He is just a guy (there are many) who think they are bigger than the game, more important than the players and smarter than coaches and officials. He needs to be gone and he is not the only one.

What we watch in sports in America these days is the vulgarization of our society. This is a form of entertainment that is much more than the game. It is a morality play, with people who demonstrate how our culture is deteriorating from the inside out.

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