Google+ On Eric Winston, Braves and Chiefs Fans

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10/8/2012

On Eric Winston, Braves and Chiefs Fans

Two grotesque episodes in pro sports fan behavior in Atlanta and Kansas City over the weekend have us calling for a stop to the madness. This is critical to PCA’s movement to provide a positive, character-building youth sports environment, because too often behavior at pro sports events trickles down to youth sports, cultivating a win-at-all-cost ethos that often chases youth from sports and all the powerful life lessons that youth sports can provide.

Incident one was Friday at Atlanta’s Turner Field, where Braves fans upset by a questionable infield fly ruling littered the field with debris, causing a classless 19-minute stoppage that marred the last game of Chipper Jones’ exceedingly classy 19-year career. Incident two occurred Sunday at Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium, where Chefs fans cheered the injury that removed Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel from action, prompting this took-the-words-right-out-of-our-mouth moment, from Chiefs tackle Eric Winston, as quoted at ProFootballTalk.com.

“We are athletes, OK? We are athletes. We are not gladiators. This is not the Roman Coliseum. People pay their hard-earned money when they come in here and I believe they can boo, they can cheer and they can do whatever they want, I believe that. We are lucky to play this game. People, it’s hard economic times, and they still pay the money to do this.

“But when somebody gets hurt, there are long lasting ramifications to the game we play, long lasting ramifications to the game we play. I’ve already kinda come to the understanding that I won’t live as long because I play this game and that’s OK, that’s a choice I’ve made and a choice all of us have made.


“But when you cheer, 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. I’ve been in some rough times on some rough teams, I’ve never been more embarrassed in my life to play football than in that moment right there.


“I get emotional about it because these guys, they work their butts off. Matt Cassel hasn’t done anything to you people, hasn’t done anything to you people. Hasn’t done anything to the media writers that kill him, hasn’t done anything wrong to the people that come out here and cheer him. Hey, if he’s not the best quarterback then he’s not the best quarterback and that’s OK. But he’s a person. And he got knocked out in a game and we have 70,000 people cheering that he got knocked out?


“Boo him all you want. Boo me all you want. Throw me under the bus. Tell me I’m doing a bad job. Say I gotta protect him more. Do whatever you want. Say whatever you want. But if you are one of those people, one of those people that were out there cheering or even smiled when he got knocked out, I just want to let you know, and I want everybody to know that I think it’s sickening and disgusting. We are not gladiators and this is not the Roman Coliseum. This is a game.


“I’ll sit here and I’ll answer all your questions for the next 30 minutes if you want to ask them and I’ll take all the responsibility I can take because I deserve it but don’t blame a guy, and don’t cheer for a guy who has done everything in his power to play as good as he can for the fans.


“It’s sickening. And I was embarrassed. I want every single one of you people to put this on your station and in your newspapers because I want every fan to know that. This is a game that’s going to cost us a lot down the road. That’s OK. We picked it, we deserve it and I don’t want your pity. But we have a lot of problems as a society if people think that’s OK.”


That’s coming from a 28-year-old, 300-pound plus lineman, who has had years to adjust to the win-at-all-cost mentality of pro sports. What must sideline taunts and other adult misbehavior at youth sports events feel like for the skinny scared six-year-old who just wants to please his parents or have fun with his friends?

Winston is right. We have a lot of problems as a society. We can start fixing them by Honoring the Game…at every level from pee-wee’s to the pros.
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