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Rand: Fierce rivalries great for fans, but not when they turn violent

  • December 3, 2012 - 11:24 PM

We love rivalries. We love good-natured trash-talking between educated fan bases -- groups that know that, at the end of the day, they really aren't that different. They just grew up in slightly different parts of a huge world, cheer for teams that wear different-colored laundry and therefore must taunt each other mercilessly with facts, half-truths and even tipsy monosyllabic shouts.

This is all part of what makes sports fun. We understand it and we participate in it. To reiterate: we love it.

What we could never grasp, however, are the stories like the one out of Green Bay on Sunday, where fans take good-natured rivalries and turn them into something worse. There were reportedly several incidents in bars near Lambeau Field surrounding the Vikings/Packers game -- more fights between fans, apparently, than usual. The one that received the most media attention was reported by the Green Bay Press-Gazette.

That one reportedly involved 20 or 30 people in the parking lot at the Sideline Sports Bar, and while officers didn't say whether it involved the 23-14 Packers victory, it's not much of a logical leap considering the timing of the incident (3:36 p.m. Sunday), the fact that a Minnesota resident and Wisconsin resident were reportedly involved and the proximity of the bar to Lambeau Field. There was also this line from the story: "Police radio broadcasts during the incident said authorities were seeking a man wearing a purple sombrero."

It's an amusing detail, but again we circle back to the original point: It's one thing to embrace a rivalry. It is the lifeblood of sports to root hard for a team and to talk trash -- again, good-naturedly -- with rival fans. If you are a Vikings fan, you had better have thick skin and a witty comeback to any comment about Super Bowls.

But to let anything rooted in a sports rivalry escalate into real violence? Sorry, but even if we "get" how it happens, we'll never understand it.

MICHAEL RAND

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