"Laws alone cannot secure freedom of expression; in order that every man presents his views without penalty there must be spirit of tolerance in the entire population." -- Albert Einstein
Saturday night my Detroit Tigers lost in another incredibly entertaining game to the Boston Red Sox. After the fun banter with friends on facebook during the week, I promptly posted a congratulatory message to all of my friends who are Red Sox fans and wished them good luck in the World Series.
A few friends commented on how much of a good sport I am. My response was, "It's just a game. It's a team I route for." In fact if you saw any of the pregame show you would have witnessed both teams' players throwing fists at each other only as they hugged and made jokes before the games.
These guys know it's just a game. Sure there could be some heated moments but they are trying to win. If you're not trying to win than why play the game? You just don't have to be disrespectful in the process and take it to the next level.
I've seen opposing players follow umps to the parking lot after a disputed call and been personally threatened to fight after an indoor soccer game. It's not the World Cup. Grow up and let it go.
One of the greatest moments in all of sports is in hockey when the players lineup after pummeling each other all series long and shake hands. They pat each other on the shoulder and say great game. What great sportsmanship. A lot of people could learn from that moment.
Why can't we do the same thing? I walked out of the movies with my kids this weekend and wished the father behind me, with his Cowboys shirt on, good luck this weekend because his team had a big game.
Do I like the Cowboys? Hell No! It is an easy opening to a friendly exchange with another Dad. I like the Cowboys to lose like the rest of the country who doesn't believe they are America's team. Everyone knows America's team wears Red, White & Blue. Like my Buffalo Bills! Haha.
But they stink. Sure they're my team but they haven't been good for 20 years. In fact I have probably saved several weeks of time by not having to sit and watch them lose. I still wear their shirt.
A few years back I went to Yankee Stadium to watch the Tigers play there. I wanted to experience the game in the place where so many wonderful players have been, before they built a new stadium. I was a Yankee fan until they traded Nettles in 1979. Then I picked up the Tigers thanks to Tom Selleck and Magnum p.i.
So I wore my beloved #23 Tigers jersey for Kirk Gibson, who no longer played with the team, but was Mr. Clutch. I went to use the bathroom and while I am "going" I hear, "Number 23 is a fag." I start to look in the reflection of the plumbing to see if I am in danger of being slugged with my pants down. I respond, "No he isn't."
Again I hear, "Number 23's gay." I finish doing my business and inform the guy, "The jersey on my back is for the team I route for. What happens on the field has nothing to do with me. I like the team. Got it?"
The Yankees were winning the game and won outright but you can witness these attacks anywhere. I broke up fights with some of my NY State Police friends when a young Dolphins' fan punched a 60 year old Bills fan and an all-out brawl started.
You hear how bad Philly fans are or read stories of how a San Francisco fan was brutally beaten at a Dodgers game. But you can hear about over-excited parents at local games starting fights too over a pop-warner football game.
It's a game. Maybe stop worrying about how many points your kid scores and worry about how many points they score on their Math test. Especially considering most of us aren't going to be playing professional sports. We spend so much time practicing sports but why not put some of that effort into education?
We all need to be better fans for the teams we support. Show some respect for your fellow fans. I love having a beer with Steelers fans before a Bills game. It should be fun not life-threatening. Maybe we will have to end the tailgating because some people act like morons.
I worry about bringing my kids to a game fearing we may have to protect ourselves or witness people acting violently.
I guess it's the same with religion. I don't care what you believe in or who you believe in. Just don't force me to see things your way or kill me because I don't. I should have no fear believing in what I want or routing for whatever team I wish without fear. It's just a game.