By Tim Baffoe-
(CBS) I love you, American sports fan.
I do. I really, really do.
There are times when my love for you is tested to its limits—when you boo a politician whose beliefs you don’t agree with during a pregame ceremony, renting billboard space to proclaim demands of your favorite team, being Alyssa Milano and sucking out the life of careers of major league pitchers. But what does not kill only strengthens, and today my love for you is stronger than ever.
As I type this, the death toll from Wednesday’s soccer riots in Egypt has reached 74 and will likely grow. Seventy-four fans have died at a sporting event not due to an architectural accident or natural disaster. They have died at the hands of other supposed fans.
Unfortunate events like this make me happy to be an American (note: not proud. I subscribe to George Carlin’s ethos of “Pride should be reserved for something you achieve or obtain on your own, not something that happens by accident of birth. Being Irish isn’t a skill. It’s a […] genetic accident. You wouldn’t say ‘I’m proud to be 5’11.’ ‘I’m proud to have a pre-disposition for colon cancer.’”)
When life and death supersedes winning and losing for someone who is emotionally invested in sports, I personally cease to consider that person a fan. He or she is instead a fanatic in every negative sense of the word, and he or she deserves an extra large chunk of Wrigley Field concrete to greet his or her skull.
Such subhumans are the reality of what happens in parts of the world populated largely by the uneducated and misguided amid political and religious turmoil who turn like so many of us to sports for a catharsis. But when such people who do so have been wired differently than Joe and Jolie Sports Fan here in the good ol’ U.S. of A., it’s not profane chants or chucking the commemorative Najeh Davenport autographed hamper onto the field. Instead it’s violent, and it’s very anarchic. It’s taking a lifetime of very real hate and translating it into team-affiliated murder.
The vast majority of you are not such fanatics, thankfully.
Sure, you have been known to run naked on a playing field while the intelligent of us hope you are tazed into Randall P. McMurphy status, and you on rare occasion have sent death threats to a sports figure for doing something that did not stop you from going to your pathetic job the next day to sustain your pathetic existence that contributes nothing of value to society, and you at times have thought you could fight Ron Artest, but you are not foreign soccer savages.
It is true that I am not a big fan of soccer. Charlie DeMarco, a fantastic comedian/writer who used to be my editor at the late, great ThePhatPhree.com (don’t bother going there because it’s now a barren internet wasteland, though I suggest purchasing Look At My Striped Shirt! and The Worst of Sports, neither of which contain any of my writing, if you want to get a taste of what went on at that hilarious, underappreciated site) wrote in his TPP masterpiece, “ESPN: A Requiem In Five Parts”:
“I don’t care about the MLS, The World Cup, or any other league of professional joggers. Forget the flopping for a second; that would be an easy thing to get rid of with some rules that wouldn’t otherwise affect the game. The bigger issue is that the game in general is flawed, perhaps hopelessly so. The offsides rule as written specifically reduces the action and limits the frequency of scoring chances. It would be like making it illegal to have a fast break in basketball, a deep pass in football, or a homerun in baseball. And that’s not even the worst of the anti-fan rules. The lack of a meaningful clock all but guarantees the absence of any real end of match drama, and the ridiculous three-substitution […] limit means that not only can’t you use your hands in soccer, you can’t use your brain either. Without substitutions and timeouts, there’s no meaningful in-game strategy to compliment the physical compettion, and that’s the difference between a sport you want to watch and a game you like to play. Soccer is a game, and a boring, first draft of a game at that—something you realize when you watch indoor soccer, which addresses almost all of the issues above and is still terrible. The fact that half the world watches it doesn’t mean anything. Half of the world still [goes to the bathroom] into a hole they dug outside their hut, but I’m sticking with the toilet. And American football.”
And while I agree with DeMarco, I don’t condemn you the American soccer fan for enjoying the sport. You are harmless, if not overly subdued and polite, especially those of you who like the game for purely elitist hipster reasons, as though soccer is to sports what Bon Iver is to music (“Shut up, you don’t get it, man,” says guy drinking a beer I’ve never heard of just because I’ve never heard of it, which he will lecture me on following his pro-soccer argument). There is nothing inherently evil about soccer, and if you are a fan, more power to you. I want to hug you in public in your FC Chelsea jersey.
I know that you will never rush the field—I’m sorry, the pitch—with a machete trying to kill the losing goalie. I know that even Raider fans in the Black Hole use every part of the carcass after a kill and don’t take lives out of pure blind aggression. I know that the overwhelming majority of you even in your most drunken, malicious hours can separate sports from real life and understand that White Sox vs. Cubs does not put food on your table and that firing an automatic weapon into a crowd will not motivate the Blackhawks on the power play.
You are not Egypt. You are not the Third World (even you, SEC fans). You are not even proper hooligans of Great Britain who endorse choreographed violence while we Yanks condone it because the accents make us think it must be intelligent and OH MY GAWD GREEN STREET HOOLIGANS IS SUCH AN AWESOME FLIPPIN’ MOVIE. Someday such pseudo-people will graduate to merely kicking over four-year-olds in wheelchairs to catch a foul ball, but it won’t be anytime soon.
Even you I love, NASCAR fans. You who often embody much of the lingering Dark Ages of cultural, sociopolitical, and intellectual aspects of the colors that don’t run, with your tiara toddlin’ wives and Everettian theories on paleontology, I want to plant a big wet one on your mullet right now.
I just can’t quit you, the Tebowing turd in the gene pool eating a minor league ballpark burger the size of an Egyptian car and twice as likely to kill you who doesn’t know all the words to your own national anthem but who demands it be sung before 22 large men try to maim each other, because somehow, someway you are and will always be better than feral foreign fans who channel their suppressed humanity into blood lust into killing fellow sporting event patrons.
And I will always love you as the pimple on the butt of the greatest sports country in the world. For purple, bloated insobriety upon the fruited margarita barf stains. From the nacho fountains to the ESPYs, to your beer farts filled with foam.
Don’t ever go changing. XOXO
Tim Baffoe attended the University of Iowa and Governors State University and began blogging at The Score after winning the 2011 Pepsi Max Score Search. He enjoys writing things about stuff, but not so much stuff about things. When not writing for 670TheScore.com, Tim corrupts America’s youth as a high school English teacher and provides a great service to his South Side community delivering pizzas (please tip him and his colleagues well). You can follow Tim’s inappropriate brain droppings on Twitter @Ten_Foot_Midget , but please don’t follow him in real life. He grew up in Chicago’s Beverly To read more of Tim’s blogs click here.