I think American football is in a downward spiral in many ways. As much as I admire players engaged in their communities, especially those protesting racial injustice especially in the face of white Republican owners, there are incidents like this one, in which a university’s fans showered the playing field with trash because they disagreed with a controversial judgment that went against their team.
College athletics is, for the most part, a healthy environment. The family enjoyed watching women’s athletics when the young miss was young–soccer, volleyball, and a bit of basketball. I’ve been to a few division I football games, and I’ve never found them particularly edifying. It’s a good way for young men to get an opportunity for a college education. But I think we could do far better steering them to other sports and cutting out what is essentially servitude.
The University of Tennessee doesn’t even want to mention the game delay its spectators perpetrated this past weekend:
(I)f one browsed the University of Tennessee’s athletics website early Sunday morning, there would be no statements to be found, nor any acknowledgement of the incident in Neyland Stadium that has already become the center of talk surrounding the game.
There was a game recap, going through Tennessee’s near-upset of Ole Miss and former Vols coach Lane Kiffin, with details on scoring plays and near-misses. But of thrown debris, mustard bottles on the sidelines and golf balls bouncing at the feet of Kiffin? Nary a mention of the events or the statements by school officials could be found on the university athletics website.
Another sportswriter I read today suggested future games in Knoxville be played behind closed doors. I could get behind that suggestion as long as the university continued to pay all of the workers, some of whom might rely on a little extra money to make ends meet. If they did something like ban all sales of alcohol for a year or two, likewise keeping sellers on the payroll.
Certainly, the university athletics website could be retooled to remove football information and make sure its visitors realize the shame of expressions that threaten and potentially harm students–the athletes, the band, the cheer team, and other spectators who might have just wanted to enjoy a game.
I suppose there will be a social media hunt for trash-tossers. I can also imagine the university president, athletic director, and the league office will be levelling their own brands of punishment.