October 19, 2011- Issue 5

A lesson in death from Dan

As quickly as Dan Wheldon was taken, the lessons learned from him and others in competitive sports will last forever.

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By ANDY RUSSELL
Sports Editor

Webster’s Dictionary defines competition as “the effort of two or more parties acting independently to secure the business of a third party by the most favorable terms; a contest between rivals.” Sports are a healthy competition between teams that are fighting for a common prize: bragging rights and pride.

This past weekend fierce competition was brushed aside as death reared its ugly head on Sunday at the Indy Car Series race in Las Vegas. Dan Wheldon, a 33-year-old driver, sailed 30 yards through the air in his car traveling at over 200 miles per hour before crash- ing into the wall and catching re just 12 laps into the nal race of the season.

Wheldon, who was racing for a ve million dollar incentive with his new spon- sor, had won the Indy 500 earlier in the season and was one of the best Indy Car drivers to date. Whel- don was a fan favorite and a beloved and respected driver by fellow competitors.

Wheldon leaves behind his wife, Susie and his two sons, Sebastian and Oliver. As drivers mourned and the sports world began to try and wrap their minds around what had happened, I began to think about some- thing different. So often in sports we look at something like this and say, “Well, isn’t that sad.” Then we say a little prayer and move on. This accident, this tragedy, made me think about how short life is and how it can end in an instant. It made me think about healthy com- petition and how it now boils down to winning at all costs, even turning to violence.

Wheldon didn’t go out on the track that day know- ing that race would be his last. Every morning when we walk out of the door, do we think that it could be our last day? Now, the case of Wheldon was truly a tragedy, an accident that no one intended to happen, yet couldn’t be avoided after the 15-car wreck took his life.

On the other end of the spectrum, what happens when competition brings a brush with death? If you want to know about that, just ask Bryan Stow.

Stow, a 42 year-old man who has an addiction to the Giants, was nearly beaten to death at the Dodgers home opener. Stow was thrown down in the parking lot after the game and kicked in the head multiple times after he was separated from his friends.

Stow remained in the hospital for several months in a medically induced coma with part of his skull removed so his brain didn’t swell any more than it had already. Stow still has yet to recover, but he has been moved to a rehabilitation center where he will begin the long road of recovery.

What drives people to do things like this? Although the Dodgers and Giants are bitter rivals, there is no need for this in sports. It doesn’t end with Stow, how- ever. There was a ght in the stands at the Oakland Raiders and San Francisco 49ers game this past season between two men who had a heated discussion. The two teams are rivals, but when the rivalry spills over into the stands, that’s when

things get dicey. On another occasion one of the two Escobar brothers was killed outside of a bar when he scored an own-goal that cost the Colombian national team a win. This own-goal not only cost his team a win in the World Cup, it also cost him his life.

These things don’t have a place in sports, and although it dominates the headlines when these things happen, it is the minority of fans that are arrogant idiots. When did it become not good enough to simply compete? Wasn’t there a time when healthy compe- tition ruled and having fun was the point of it all? When competition turns deadly, that is when sports goes too far and spills over.

Life is short: too short to worry about the outcome of the game, too short to beat up an opposing fan or anything of the sort. This is what we can take out of Wheldon’s tragedy, and something that I’m sure he would want the sports world to understand.

A line needs to be drawn between the fans and it needs to start with the play- ers. They need to make an example of this and, even in the midst of a bitter rivalry game, go shake the competition’s hand. Stop jawing at players,stopbrawlingatthe mound. Let’s start by set- ting an example for the fans that enough is enough and violence isn’t the answer. It’s time for the players to start acting like profession- als, and not like pre-madon- nas.

One thing that Dan would want us to do, is to go out and live every day like it is your last. Don’t worry about the outcome because at the end of the day a game is just that, a game. The fact that we are here and able to compete should be enough, as he no longer has that opportunity.

Tragedy begins to put things into perspective and right now, with the negative image of rivalry and com- petition, the sports world needs a good refocusing. Thanks Dan. I, we all, owe you one.

 

Sports gone too far

By ANDY RUSSELL
Sports Editor

As said before, these things don’t end with the examples given. There are many more times when sports fans have taken things into their own hands and caused harm to others:

-Each and every time the Yankees and the Red Sox get together there is a ght. In 2008, a ght broke out near a conces- sion stand between groups of fans. The EMS had to be called and several fans were severely injured.

-In 2009, Scott Neider- mayer threw his hockey stick out to a little girl. Another man approached her and stole it from her. Then a ght broke out

between two men over the stick.

-In 2002 at a Kansas City Royals game, two men who were intoxicated came out of the stands to attack the coach of the Royals. Both men were arrested.

-Matthew Clemmens, a die-hard Phillies fan, was arrested shortly after attending a game in 2010. Clemmens intentionally vomited on a little girl during the game because she was a fan of the oppos- ing team. Luckily, her father was an off-duty cop and Clemmens was arrested and charged with assualt.

-During a Canucks- Ducks hockey game, one fan was beaten into an unc- oncious state when he con- fronted another fan.

 

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