Don’t Be a Knucklehead

Fans booing

By Marcus Shockley

Back in 1995, before anyone really had heard of actor Giovanni Ribisi, he broke through with a stellar performance on ‘The X-Files’, where he portrayed a teenager who develops the ability to control electricity. Ribisi doesn’t use his newfound abilities to fight crime or change the world, however; he uses it to turn stoplights green at the same time just so he can see car accidents and giggle. Ribisi’s portrayal of the ‘pulling wings off of flies’ personality launched his career and probably resonated because of it’s accuracy in displaying the type of idiocy that we are all too familiar with.

Unfortunately, the world has far too many knuckleheads like Ribisi’s character.

On Sunday, Kansas City Chiefs QB Matt Cassel was knocked out of the game against the Ravens with a concussion. As Cassel regained consciousness and was aided off of the field, some of the fans – home field fans of the Chiefs – gleefully cheered Cassel’s injury:

Cassel remained on his back for several minutes while fans began to cheer. He eventually got to his feet with some help and walked off the field under his own power.

This type of behavior by adults – or anyone, for that matter – is not acceptable. I actually heard people defending this by saying they ‘pay their money’ for tickets and they ‘can do whatever they want’. No, they can’t. There’s nothing on a ticket that says buying one gives you freedom that isn’t allowed in normal society. I was in 100% agreements with the articulate comments of Kansas City Chief tackle Eric Winston, who leveled criticism at the booing fans:

“…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.”

While several media members applauded Winston’s comments, I was a little bothered by them repeatedly saying that fans were claiming to be “justified” in their actions. The annoyance I have is with the word “justify”. These fans are not justified in the actions under any circumstances. What they are doing is rationalizing their behavior.

They rationalize because deep down, they know, just as we all know, what they did was wrong. There’s no excuse; save it, I don’t want to hear it. We all know that if you cheered for a player injury, you shouldn’t have done it and you have no right to do it. You can’t look yourself in the mirror and honestly tell yourself that you think that’s how someone should behave.

Now, in the basketball recruiting world, scouts and coaches are constantly telling kids about ‘character’. While that can fall into an ambiguous description, we expect potential college basketball players to be decent individuals. Scouts, media and coaches will rave to each other about players who are intelligent and get good grades. They will tweet about staying focused and putting in work. All of this is coming from adults trying to combat the very real underbelly of recruiting and sports in general; also, it is an attempt to offer encouragement to young people who don’t know how hard work really will pay off and might otherwise become discouraged.

So when adults pull stunts like they did on Sunday, it flies in the face of all of that ‘character’ talk. It also shows that there are many people – in this case thousands – who will join in on unacceptable behavior when given the chance. Mob mentality is a very real thing, but some people don’t need a mob to feel entitled to do horrible things – they just need an excuse. It’s despicable and it also means that they are teaching their own kids to do the same thing.

That’s why we have to stand up as a society and not coddle these people. They shouldn’t be allowed to rationalize their behavior. We should be calling them out for what they are.

It’s wrong to cheer because someone gets injured. Don’t do it.

Don’t throw bottles on the court or the field.

Don’t drink yourself silly and then brawl with other people in the stands.

You didn’t know that? Well you do know. It’s wrong. Don’t claim no one ever spelled it out for you.

Don’t be a knucklehead.

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