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Sunday, September 05, 2004

It's football season

RALEIGH, North Carolina (AP) -- Two young men -- one a Marine Corps officer -- were shot to death Saturday at a tailgate party before a college football game, and authorities were searching for two suspects.

Witnesses said a fistfight preceded the shootings. One victim was dead at the scene; the other died at a hospital. Neither was a student at the university.

The victims, identified as Kevin M. McCann, 23, of Chicago, and 2nd Lt. Brett Johnson Harman, 23, of Park Ridge, Illinois, were tailgating before North Carolina State University's season-opening football game against Richmond.

A witness, Brian Smith, 31, said the men had been tossing a football when a car drove recklessly in a parking lot packed with football fans. He said the men pulled the blond-haired driver from his car and beat him, pushing his head into the dirt.

The blond man left in his car, shouting curses and threatening revenge, Smith said. He returned later and asked Smith where to find the men who had beaten him, saying he had "a .38 Smith & Wesson for them."

Smith, who said the man appeared intoxicated, pointed in the direction of the victims and heard gunshots a short time later.

Smith ran to the shooting scene and found one victim wounded in the face, the other in the upper torso.

"My reaction is that I got two guys killed," Smith said.
Gee, ya think?

I'm not a big fan of having lots of cops around, nor of citizen cops being suspicious of everyone, but what were these guys thinking, and where were the cops? Guy drives wrecklessly through the parking lot--instead of reporting him, they beat the crap out of him. Instead of reporting the beating, witnesses just walk. Beating victim comes back saying he's going to shoot his assailants. Does the witness call 911? Of course not. He just waits for the sound of gunshots.

As happens seven times every fall, Ann Arbor was invaded by 110,000 football fans yesterday. Rich, obnoxiously loyal, flag-waving, SUV-driving fans. Fortunately, nobody shot anybody, and it would be crazy to stereotype football fans as especially violent. But I do think that they serve as a sort of training for the kind of mindless patriotism we've seen in the past three years. No big deal to take the yellow-and-blue "M" flag off the SUV and attach the stars and stripes. Exactly why it's good to "be true to your school" has never been exactly clear to me. The 18 to 22-year-old giants recruited from all over the country to play for Michigan have little in common with the tailgating marketing grads cheering them on; for the most part, they're not even taking the same classes. But for some reason they think that it reflects well on them when Michigan's huge kids beat Ohio State's huge kids. Or when America's kids beat Iraq's kids. Same concept, larger scale.

I will say that certainly not all football fans are like that. Many, like me, enjoy watching a good game. I don't like the excessive violence, but a good football game can be very exciting to watch. I just don't see any great reason to be blindly loyal to a school or a team. Loyalty is way overrated, is easily abused and misguided, and can be extremely dangerous.