Fandom Going A Little Bit Off The Edge

heard someone say on the radio recently that the National Football League is the most violent sport devised by man, so why should we be surprised to see it when the violent athletes who play that game taunt opponents after driving their rivals head-first into the turf?
We probably shouldn’t be surprised at all. However, the NFL (which some people claim stands for the No Fun League) is attempting to legislate bad sportsmanship and unnecessary violence out of the game.
The league’s success rate is poor. Despite asking players to refrain from celebrating in boorish ways, they still do. And despite cracking down on helmet-to-helmet hits, horse collars, etc., etc., players continue to commit such fouls at an alarming rate. My theory is that you can’t legislate violence out of NFL football any more than you can put a tutu on a rhinoceros.
Well, OK. If you’re very careful, I’m sure you actually can put a tutu on a rhinoceros. But you can’t make it perform ballet.
They say professional football players are crazy. But if they are indeed off balance, I believe the time has arrived to do some psychological tests on a few of the wildest NFL fans, as well.
Case in point: the recent Monday Night Football game between the New Orleans Saints and the Seattle Seahawks in Seattle. Did you watch that game? Did you pay special attention to the fans?
The Seattle stadium is widely regarded as the loudest in sports. The fans who worship football there believe they can affect the outcome of games with their antics, and in the New Orleans game — buoyed by a national TV audience — they outdid themselves. The next day, The Associated Press reported that the stadium was so rocking that seismic instruments registered small tremors more than once.
A magnitude 1 or 2 quake was measured during Michael Bennett’s 22-yard fumble return for a touchdown, for instance.
Maybe I’m overreacting, but I wonder if the loudest of those fans should ask themselves: Is it really so important that my team win that I should risk bursting a blood vessel?
I watched the Seattle fans on that night — their wild costumes, the war paint, all those faces red as ripe apples with neck veins bulging, and of course most of them screaming their lungs out without any apparent intervals of rest — and I thought to myself, hmmm … If the NFL is so fired up about toning down the violence on the field, has it ever considered advising its more crazed fans to behave with a little more decorum?
Occasionally in the Seattle stadium crowd, I’d spot someone (a middle-aged woman, perhaps; a father with a young son, perhaps) who seemed to appear just a little confused by all the zaniness going on around them.
I felt sorry for them. I found myself hoping they remembered their ear plugs. And I wondered if maybe, just maybe, too many of us have allowed our interest in sports to turn us into fools.