Welcome to the 2012 Rome: where we pay our gladiators millions of dollars and you pay too much to park.
In the fourth quarter at Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback, Matt Cassel, went down with a concussion after he was bulldozed by Baltimore Ravens nose tackle Haloti Ngata.
When this happened, some of the Chiefs fans started cheering. Yes, that’s right, they were cheering that Cassel was hurt. After the game, Chiefs tackle Eric Winston went on a rant about this act.
“When you cheer somebody getting knocked out, I don’t care who it is, and it just so happened to be Matt Cassel — it’s sickening, it’s 100 percent sickening,” said Winston. “We have a lot of problems as a society if people think that is OK.”
Let’s make something clear; this is not a column about me trying to defend fans heartlessly cheering for a struggling quarterback’s injury. I hate it when players get injured. Period.
But what does this act show us about ourselves? Are we as fans really that much above the jeering crowd at Arrowhead? If we call ourselves football fans, the answer is no.
The ratings of the NFL and the subsequent profits have been steadily rising in recent years. Thanks to football’s popularity, the NFL is the nation’s most favored sport.
This means we, as fans, want to see more of the NFL and media coverage intensifies. When we fans are inundated with football in the same way we see Lindsay Lohan’s poor driving skills, our football players are relegated to the same category as Lohan: entertainment. When we watch football, entertainers become confused with athletes. Thus, the violence and pain, that has always been part of football, just becomes amusing for fans. No sympathy for the players during games and we don’t care what happens when the players step off the field, just give us our entertainment.
In Kansas City, Matt Cassel hadn’t entertained fans (five touchdowns compared to nine interceptions this season). But they weren’t cheering for Matt or his injury, they were cheering because he had been pulled offstage and a new act is about to come on. I’m sure that fans of Roman gladiators weren’t cheering because the fighters had died; they just wanted to see another person have a shot at the lions, tigers and bears (oh my).
Viewing players as entertainment should never happen on any level of sport. Entertainers have never been a part of sports. Let’s get back to the days when we cared about an athlete’s passion and talent, not their entertainment value.