Football is just a sport, not life

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 3, 2003

I know it's football season, and some fans, including myself, get a little caught up in the craze. But it is important not to lose sight of reality. After all, it's just a game.

In an evenly matched game that lasted into double overtime, the Alabama Crimson Tide lost to the Arkansas Razorbacks 34-31. I watched the game on TV. So did a man from Pinson. Our reactions to the Tide losing, however, were polar opposites.

I admit I'm not a huge Tide fan, or War Eagle fan for that matter. I grew up watching Georgia games with my dad since as long as I can remember. I grew to support the team, also. So, when I watched Alabama lose to Arkansas, I wasn't overly affected other than the narrow loss might indicate a bit of a struggle for the Bulldogs this weekend (v. Bama).

The man from Pinson reacted violently to Bama's loss. He had been drinking, which only intensified his frustration. After the Tide, who had a 20 point lead over the Hogs in the third quarter, were unable to keep up with the opponents of the game, the man proceeded to smash dishes, slam doors, and holler. The 46-year old man then grabbed a pistol from his car, after his 20-year old son asked him for a car. The man came back, grabbed his son by the collar, and pressed the loaded pistol against the boy's head. The man clearly lost sight of what is real. Sure, the game is real, and it may be part of life in the South, but it is definitely not all there is to life, let alone taking a life. What happened to "good sportsmanship?" Does it even exist anymore, or is it a term hashed down over the years in order to promote sports?

I know it still exists, but I can't help but wonder if fans are headed in the wrong direction as far as ideals go. I witnessed my first 'Bama game the previous weekend, another close game against a team doing extremely well this year, Northern Illinois. They lost, and once again, after the game I had no strong feelings either way. I just thought it was exciting to watch and cover (report). As I was walking down the upper deck, I overheard a young 'Bama fan no older than his 20s talking on his cell phone. He was saying he was so depressed that he could jump right there from the stadium. I looked over to see if he was joking. I even wanted to ask him, "Are you kidding?" But I didn't need to. The look on his face was stern, and he was serious. Although he didn't attempt to jump, I made a correlation between the young man and the violent father this week. It was the same sort of principle: a momentary lapse of reality and reason.

I know football isn't the only sport people have the tendency to take to extremes, either. The majority of the world, particularly in Europe and Spanish-speaking countries, endorses soccer and especially the World Cup religiously. I remember a World Cup tournament in the '90s ('95, if I remember correctly). After losing a match by accidentally scoring a goal against his

own team, a Brazil player was shot in his home town by a fan.

Fans aren't the only ones caught up with winning. So-called advances in athletics such as creotine and other supplements which have potential health hazards are designed to give players an edge. But with the risks involved, one has to wonder how much good can really come from the few possible wins it would prompt. That's another problem with supplements, their short-lived.

But generally speaking, sports are short-lived. There will always be another chance for your team to be number 1, so people should enjoy it for what it is - a game.