Yesterday, for the first time in fifteen years, I went to a football game—an American football game. It was at the same stadium (the same seats, for that matter) of my last experience. The band played the same themes; the man with the funny felt hat a few rows ahead still sits with his funny felt hat a few rows ahead. There was a comforting continuity to it all.
Not comforting was the obscene negative shouting of fans around me. Our team lost. That’s okay; one team or the other will loose. Don’t we know this before the game begins? Are we only there to see our team win? I’m not going to go off on some soft-shoe elitist commentary about how we are all supposed to feel good about everything in the world and give flowers to one another in the stands; I wanted to see us win as well. But what help is it (for the other fans, the team, for one’s own blood pressure) to shout an extensive list of expletives if a player runs the ball in a manner contrary to one’s personal play-book preference? Maybe I’m wrong, but when your compatriots are down, it’s not helpful to rain abuses upon them.
Two rows in front of us was a grizzly old man wearing a heavy plaid coat and boots; his hair and beard were a mane of white flowing fur. He looked like he had just come down from the mountains. To passing women on the stairs, he would give a polite, “how are you doing today, ma’am?” However, once our team began down that slope to ultimate loss, he began cursing up a blue streak. (I will not reproduce direct quotations here.)
My parents, who are not exactly old, recalled games from their university years. People dressed almost formally; gameday had the air of an event. Yesterday, besides one man I spotted in a sport-coat (no doubt a journalist or errant cantankerous fellow who insists on such clothing), most people looked as if they could just as well work in the backyard. Of course, I looked the same; it never occurred to me to put on a tie (it probably will as soon as I become about 15% more cantankerous).
I could also go off here on the amount of advertising we were pummelled with; however, the sports world is not my own. It’s not my place to lament the passing of any particular golden age. But, I’m thirty-one; has civility degraded so much in my own lifetime?