Welcome back meaningful NFL football (those preseason “games” are awful). Baltimore embraces the arrival of a new season for the Ravens and that energy was palpable in the city on Sunday. It’s an energy that reached great heights with a dominant victory over the rival Steelers. But with many things in life, there’s some bad that comes with the good. I’ve got my take on both.
First, what’s good. There are few elements of our society that bring communities together like sports. I’m a South Baltimore resident, and I’ve always enjoyed/marveled at the sense of community that Ravens’ games generate as fans of all segments of our society march en masse through Federal Hill on their way to the stadium on game day. Strangers high-five one another and yell cheers across the street. I do the walk myself to take in that atmosphere of camaraderie. Sunday I was joined by a father and his 7-year old son from Severna Park. The young boy wore his Ray Rice jersey and his wonderment and excitement leading up to the game rendered him speechless. It reminded me of the innocence of my own youth and the unbridled joy of anticipation of big sporting events I felt when I was a kid.
Leave it to the adults to ruin that good feeling. There’s something about football and it’s once-a-week nature that leads some “fans” to take leave of their senses and what is considered socially acceptable behavior. Of course, much of that behavior is fueled by alcohol. I see nothing wrong with someone enjoying a couple of game day beers, but to see so many people downing six-packs and liquor shots at tailgate parties and Fed Hill bars is troubling because the resulting behavior is deplorable. Aggressive taunting and cursing, lewd comments and at worst fist fights are common place on NFL Sundays. Maybe we give college kids a pass because they supposedly don’t know any better, but I witness so-called “mature” adults overindulging and causing disturbances before, during and after football games. What is the void in someone’s life that they allow themselves to degenerate to the level that they do? It’s sad, actually frustrating, too, because most dads probably won’t take their kids to a game because of the inconvenience caused by the drunken but vocal minority.
The Ravens victory over the Steelers Sunday was an uplifting day for our city- that’s not lost on me. The more days like this for Baltimore- the better for all of us. Workplaces around town will have happier employees who can share their excitement about a meaningful win that’ll help make Monday pass without the usual blahs. Kids at school will share their excitement with one another, too. Yet some “fans” will wake up in the fog of a hangover, having overindulged in alcohol and not able to recall the details of a great game. Truly pathetic.
posted by Mark Viviano