Sign of Society’s Degradation?

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.

(Colin E. Braley, AP)

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?

6 thoughts on “Sign of Society’s Degradation?

  1. Haddon Anderson

    I heard that radio clip as well, and I did find the thought of playing in a studio to be quite outlandish.

    I would agree that spectator behavior is not getting worse. As you noted, ugly incidents like what happened yesterday have been happening for many, many years.

    I would also say that the ugliness of spectator behavior is now more visible and comes in more forms than previous eras. Hate-tweets and death threats now appear after every unfortunate ending to a game, and the overall access to social media exclaims the ugliness. Imagine if Twitter were around when the Bartman ball occurred. An ugly scene would’ve been even uglier…

    But that doesn’t indicate that spectator behavior is getting worse. There are just more vehicles for ugliness to be displayed.

    Overall, it seems like ugly scenes have occurred in the past, are occurring now, and will continue to take place in the future, but perhaps there is more buzz surrounding them now because everything is excessively publicized and debated.

    P.S. This is a great topic to be discussed on PTI. Give Wilbon a call and tell him to spend 5 Good Minutes on this…

  2. Daniel B

    “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,…” While I think these words were likely penned more for showing contrasts parallel to other contrasts in the novel, I think they also represent the way in which each era has a certain pride in itself. Making a general observation, it seems that each generation (especially with the dawn of Modernism) has its own pride that insists that it is unique and extraordinary in some way, even if it is extraordinarily bad. Just a thought.

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