Sticks and Stones May Break my Bones but Words…

Posted on September 25, 2011

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Crew Hooligans

Good friends invited us to join the Hooligan section of the Columbus Crew game yesterday for the sold-out game against the L.A. Galaxy.

We thought it sounded like fun. We were right.

Their 5-year-old son and 10-year-old Danny played soccer in the parking lot while we tailgated in adult, but tame fashion. When we joined the game, it was exciting and pulsating with energy. The songs in the section were pithy and bouncy. The half-time show featured a soccer game with a three-foot high ball between Star Wars characters and famous Ohio mascots, including Crew Cat, Lou Seal from the Clippers and our favorite, Stinger of the Columbus Blue Jackets. It was great family entertainment (except for the drooling drunk group behind us–seemingly a hazard of many a pro game).

When the second half began, we thought it would be a great idea to get our kids closer to the action, field level even, where we could see the sweat flick from Frankie Hejduk‘s hair and count the receding strands on Landon Donovan‘s own head.

We thought it sounded like fun. We were wrong.

The language being flung around like leaves on a windy fall day was, at first, just surprising. There were songs about players having no fathers, which justified calling them “bastards.” There were loud and vulgar tunes that seemed more fitting a drunken pirate ship, but since we had the drunken part well covered, maybe it was apropos. But then two voices behind us took it to a whole new level when they screamed at the top of their lungs, “Get the ball, you c**t!”

Now I have actually not ever heard that word in public in mixed company, and it was like a jolt of electricity. Almost without thought, I looked behind me to see who said it, and saw two young men–about the age to be my students–beers in one hand, the others raising fists in the air trying to root the Crew to victory. I stared at them a second and when I turned around, I heard one proclaim, “She didn’t like something we said–was it c**t?!” And when I turned again, they said, “That was it! Too f*****g bad!” a sentiment shared by the college-age woman standing next to me.

Less than 50  years ago, the N-word was part of every-day vernacular in some parts of our country. And I know people from some part of Britain use the C-word (and I don’t mean cancer) in ways not familiar in this America. But we are in America, and around here, the N-word is simply not uttered in polite company and the C-word to me, has no acceptable usage or meaning, around men, women or children–all of whom were within shouting distance this particular evening.

The Crew gave up a goal in stoppage time to lose the game, and for the near future, I think I have given up on the live Crew experience. Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names–and the people who utter them without thought or care for those around them–can completely disgust me.

Have you ever had an experience at a sporting or other public event that sort of freaked you out? Share it–and what you did!

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