Jerk is the polite substitute for a term I’d prefer to use after reading this morning that fans of the Houston Texans were gleeful yesterday when their own quarterback, Matt Schaub, went down with a leg injury midway through the third quarter. The team went on to lose to the St. Louis Rams, 38 to 13. It is understandable that the hometown crowd was disappointed. It is not understandable that as Schaub lay on the ground writing in pain, attended to by the team’s trainer and concerned fellow athletes, the boorish crowd let out a loud cheer.
J.J. Watt, who plays defense for the Texans, told CBS Houston, “That’s a man with a wife and kids.” But the problem runs far deeper. Nor is it limited to the Texans or even football. Who could ever forget — or forgive — the infantile “Yankees suck!” chant that fans of the Boston Red Sox sadly never grow tired of rehearsing, year in and year out?
Fan behavior can no more be written off as “enthusiasm” than end zone “dances” by players can be explained away as jubilance. What NFL players do when they score or sack the opposing quarterback is crude and sets a lousy example for children who are watching. It is not considered taunting by the league (there is a penalty for that), but it should be.
Fan misbehavior should be discouraged, too. Maybe the commissioners of professional sports need to get together and release a video on fan decorum that explains that the contest they are viewing is a game, not a war. Fans need to get back to the job of enjoying the game and rooting for their own team, not cursing or jeering at the other. Above all, fans need to know that celebrating an injury is beyond the pale, whether it is your own guy or someone else’s.
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