Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassell was knocked out of their game against the Ravens yesterday. In a pretty classless move, the Kansas City fans, frustrated at his performance, cheered Cassell’s injury.
I heard someone on the radio decrying this unfortunate episode as another sign of our society’s increasing ugliness. Within two decades, he said, games will be played in a studio since the presence of spectators will be deemed too dangerous.
I’m not so sure. In fact, I had to laugh as I thought of the regular brawls at the old Chicago Stadium, where the Bulls and Blackhawks used to play, and the pervasive presence of loutish thugs at the old Comiskey Park. Baseball fans regularly hurled racial slurs up until the last few decades of the last century, and can you imagine a game ending with the fans rushing the field as they did in 1976?
It seems to me that there’s no way of demonstrating conclusively that spectator behavior is getting better or worse. Nor can we make such sweeping claims about society at large. We cite incidents that fit our larger vision of “where things are headed,” but what about data that don’t fit?
So, whether in sports or in the larger culture, what sorts of things can you note in order to prove one or the other theory?