This year’s World Series resulted in victory for the Boston Red Sox over the St. Louis Cardinals.
In the events leading up to this final victory, both aficionados and newfound supporters of both the Sox and the Yankees became remarkably concentrated on the baseball season.
Suddenly, the topic of small-talk conversations was not the weather or midterms. It was all about baseball.
It’s amazing how revved-up these fans become, especially when they come together as a single enthusiast unit.
It can be a beautiful sight to see thousands of colorful, animated devotees doing the wave, chanting a phrase or simply jumping for joy in the stands.
However, it’s a whole new situation when fans’ attitudes change. It usually goes something like this:
The pumped up energy of the crowd pulsates, focusing sharply on every movement happening on the field.
Suddenly, it’s clear: their team has lost, or won.
Fire, either furious or ecstatic, burns from the pit of their hearts, and it can be seen in their eyes.
Those in charge of keeping the peace are tense, alert and ready for anything.
They’ve got brand new non-lethal weapons which shoot rubber pellets filled with pepper spray, designed to cause pain but not serious injury to an out-of-control enthusiast.
Suddenly, a passionate fan, elated at the victory of his team, throws and shatters a glass bottle.
The police and security officers, under intense pressure, flinch at the sight.
One of them takes a shot into the crowd.
Suddenly a woman collapses. The pellet has hit her eye, and instead of exploding into a burst of pepper spray, it has funneled through into her brain and killed her instantly.
Unfortunately, this is not fiction. On the afternoon of Thursday, October 22, young Victoria Snelgrove lost her life to the terrible extremes of fanaticism.
Boston Police Commissioner Kathleen O’Toole spoke at a press conference that day. According to a news article posted at 3:54 a.m. on Friday, October 22 on CNN.com, “O’Toole said she ‘firmly and emphatically’ accepted responsibility for any errors officers may have made. But she condemned the ‘punks’ she said turned a celebration of the pennant victory into a near-riot.”
In many cultures, especially our own, sports fanaticism is common and accepted.
Unfortunately, this gets to a point of ridiculous foolishness and even a sort of dazed insanity.
Why should anyone suffer from, let alone lose their life to, the horrors of fanaticism?