Arrowhead stadium used to be a place that other teams were afraid to play in because of the 12th man, the fans. The crowd was a force to be reckoned with, aiding the defense and causing delay of game calls left and right. I used to be proud to be a part of that crowd. I enjoyed watching the quarterback from the opposing team being forced to use his leg to signal the hike because it was so loud on the field that he couldn’t even communicate verbally with his own teammates.
But after yesterday, I have to say I am no longer proud to be a part of the crowd of people who fill the seats to watch the Chiefs. I have long felt that the crowds at Arrowhead have become ever more lowbrow and crass over the years. The events of yesterday solidly prove my suspicions true. Yesterday, thousands of people around the stadium cheered when our own quarterback was injured—ultimately receiving a concussion—and was led shakily off the field after minutes of laying on the ground, probably unconscious.
Matt Cassel is a grown man and probably has a thick enough skin to be left unfazed by such behavior. If so, he’s a much stronger person than I am. If it was me, I’d probably cry being exposed to such treatment after sacrificing my body and everything I have for the game. Yes our team and our quarterback have struggled. And sure it’s tough to watch your team lose week after week. But neither of these facts are the real issue nor do they excuse the behavior exhibited by the fans on Sunday.
Cassel and every player in the NFL stride out onto the field daily and sacrifice their bodies for our entertainment. Football is a dangerous game that can leave men with injuries that change their lives. I’ve seen replays of men breaking their necks. They lay motionless on the field until they are carted off. It’s scary to sit and watch something like that. It’s scary to wonder if that man will be okay, if he’ll be able to recover. It’s even scarier to think that some people are cheering about this.
How anyone can cheer when someone gets hurt, I will never understand. Yes, football is a violent game. I know that. But it takes a truly sick person to enjoy watching someone get hurt, particularly to cheer at that person’s injury and suffering. After yesterday’s game, I’m not sure I want to go back to Arrowhead again—not because of the Chiefs performance, but because of the fans and who they have become. I want no part of that. News sources all over the country are documenting the behavior of our fans.
Eric Winston, an offensive tackle for the Chiefs, put everything into perspective. His disgust and his anger were palpable during his interview. And he has a right to be angry—he and every other player in the NFL. He spoke eloquently and to the point. He handled the situation very well, much better than I would have with that kind of anger coursing through me. “[Football players] aren’t gladiators,” he said (http://www.kansascity.com/2012/10/07/3852222/chiefs-winston-criticizes-fans.html). They are human beings just like us playing a game for themselves and for us as fans. Matt Cassel is lucky to have a teammate like Eric Winston to come to his defense.
Arrowhead stadium is no longer a place to be feared by opponents. The fans deserve to be despised by the Chiefs and every team that steps into the stadium from this point forward. Kansas City fans are no longer people who deserve to be called part of the team because they have committed the greatest form of treason—turning on one of their own.
The people who cheered at Matt Cassel’s injury in the 4th quarter of yesterday’s game against the Ravens should be ashamed. There is something wrong with our society if it is okay to find joy in the pain of another. I turned to a man cheering behind me while Matt Cassel lay on the ground and told him that his behavior was disgusting. He looked at me and said “Football is a violent game” as if that made his actions okay. Needless to say, I was repulsed.
As for you, Matt Cassel, I want you to know that there were people in the crowd not cheering on Sunday when you were hurt. We were and still are concerned for your health and safety. We cheered for you when you were able to stand up and walk off the field. You are our quarterback, no matter the score. We hope that you recover and that you will return to the field quickly to lead your team. We are the real Chiefs fans.
2 thoughts on “It’s Time to Cut the 12th Man: A Response to the Behavior of Chiefs Fans on 10.6.12”
What you say is true but consider that in sports like rugby football or Australian Rules football, which are full contact body sports, the players have a tiny fraction of the protective equipment and are in constant motion – there’s no time out or swapping out of defensive and offensive teams. So, perhaps given those players willingness to sacrifice their bodies (for a lot less money, by the way) we should expect a little more from NFL players.
You make an interesting point. The pay of most professional sports players in the US is exorbitant, particularly in comparison to sports players in other countries. But I still feel like common human decency and respect still have a place in all sports. Thanks for making me think some more about this 🙂
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