Thursday, September 07, 2006

The Deleted Rant, Resurrected

So Brandi and I went to the "Clash in Cleveland" last weekend. The BGSU Falcons played their first game of the football season against the Wisconsin Badgers at Cleveland Browns Stadium. It was technically a home game for the Falcons, which is a big deal since it's hard to get a team of Wisconsin's caliber to play the Falcons at home in their normal digs, the cozy Doyt Perry Stadium on campus at BGSU. It was also a big deal since so many of BG's students and alumni call Cleveland home, and since it's rare for our players and our fans to visit a stadium like that and think of it as "home," even just for one game.

My original intention was for the game experience to be the focal point of this post and for some of the extraneous elements to be sidenotes or maybe not even mentioned at all. As the words actually came together, though, I realized that I had a lot to say on what happened. Not necessarily because I wanted to say a lot, but because the jerkoffs sitting behind us made themselves the focal point of our game experience. Frankly, it pissed me off, and I'm still pretty pissed off about it, almost a full week later.

We got to the stadium well before the game was scheduled to start. Brandi bought the tickets for the game months ago and gave them as a wedding gift to me/us at our rehearsal dinner. She bought them through Ticketmaster instead of through the BGSU athletic ticket office, and so we ended up in a section that was pretty well dominated by Wisconsin fans. There were some BG fans around us as well, but mostly the BG crowd was on the other side of the stadium. Still, the seats were great. We were on the 35-yard line, 21 rows up from the field, with a great view of everything.

We were so caught up in checking everything out that I really have no idea when the guys behind us finally filled in. I do know they were in fine form by the time the Falcon Marching Band took the field--they started booing our band (who does that?), saying they were boring and that they didn't belong on the field.

For most of the first half, they stuck to stuff like that: comments about how inferior BG was to Wisconsin in pretty much every way you can imagine. It was highly annoying, but if that was all it was, it would have been tolerable. When they weren't slamming Bowling Green, they were talking about fights they had been in, and how their goal for the night was to "see some snatch." Oh yes, they were vulgar, and they were loud about it. Security actually came to tell them to tone it down on a couple of occasions, to no apparent effect. They drove at least a couple of groups out of the section--including a couple of female BGSU alumnae (with the poor fortune to be sitting right next to them) who they were sexually harassing the whole time they were there.

It was obvious from the start that they were pretty drunk. In fact, one guy (who went by the unlikely name of "Shooter," a fact I learned from having them scream it at him over and over and over) was barely able to lift his head from the moment I first noticed them, except to be occasionally as obnoxious as his friends. In fact, they stole our souvenir nacho bowl (which we wanted to keep, despite the fact that it had "Cleveland Browns" emblazoned upon it) from under our seats for Shooter to puke in. That was pretty awesome. I suppose, though, that it was better than puking on us and our jerseys, which his friends encouraged him to do.

As the night wore on, their behavior got worse and worse. I got up at halftime to go get some snacks, and Brandi told me on the way home that they harassed her pretty much the whole time I was gone. Not sexually, as with the girls who had been sitting with them earlier, but in the way that junior high boys irritate girls--bumping her, tapping her and looking away, touching her hair, making stupid comments, etc. It was much the same for me during the third quarter when Brandi got up to go to the bathroom. One guy came and stood next to me, the rest of our row being open, and continued to make degrading comments about BG, looking at me the whole time. I didn't give him the satisfaction of even looking at him, so his friends proceeded to nudge my head a couple of times while I was trying to take a picture of the action on the field.

Later, two of them picked up a third from their group and started tossing him up and down. They were banging the back of my chair in the process, and the guy being tossed nearly ended up kicking the head of the guy next to me each time he came down. Security paid them another visit at this point, and I thought they were on their way out, but that was not the case. Instead, they just kept getting more and more obnoxious and vulgar. Finally, no longer satisfied with being ignored, they leaned over to say something directly to us, leaning on Brandi's and my head. At that point, nearing the end of the third quarter, we could take it no more. We moved down several rows, into seats just vacated by fans leaving early, to get away from them. Congratulations, guys! You're all dicks!

This was easily the worst experience I've ever had at a game with fans of an opposing school, and that's saying something. We were generally poorly received when the Falcons played at Ohio State a couple of years ago (which is NOT the reason we won't be attending when BG plays there again this year; blame that instead on the fact that tickets for one OSU game cost more than a season ticket for BG games), but no one was out-and-out hostile. This was just absurd. Under slightly different circumstances I would have complained to security, but security saw and heard everything that went on and chose to do nothing. Changing seats was our only real recourse, and even that wasn't really feasible until later in the game when other people started leaving.

I just don't understand what would compel people to be such jackasses. It would be easy to blame it on the alcohol, but I really get the feeling that these guys would have been douchebags even without it. I just wanted to watch the game and have a good time. When I found out we were in a Wisconsin section, I didn't exactly expect a warm reception, but most people are generally pretty good-natured about that sort of thing. Not this time. And there were plenty of other people around who, while they didn't participate, seemed to condone their behavior. Trust me, I wouldn't expect anyone else to say anything to them, but I was a little surprised when other Wisconsin fans engaged them and talked to them, as though they were just regular people who weren't intent on making others around them totally uncomfortable.

I'm sure BG (and every school) has their share of fans like that, but in all the games I've attended (which is quite a few), I can honestly say I've never encountered any of them. If I ever did see BG fans acting like that, I know I wouldn't befriend them. I'd like to think I'd say something to them, but I know at the very least that I wouldn't act like I was associated with them in any way. I know that fans of other teams are just there to root for their team, and in that regard, we're not so different. I always like it when I hear or read comments from fans of other teams saying what an awesome time they had at BG games and how friendly the people are. That's the sort of environment I want to be a part of.

The lesson learned from all of this, of course, is that we shall buy tickets only from the BGSU athletic ticket office for any off-campus events. That way we know we'll be with others of a like mind.

As for the game, I managed to not let the assholes behind us totally ruin it for me, and I think Brandi would say the same. Fun, but not as fun as it could have been. BG ended up losing the game 35-14, but they made at least a respectable showing against a solid Big Ten program. The Falcons are going to be fun to watch this year, despite losing so many players from last year's team.

You can check out my photos from the game here.

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