Tuesday, September 06, 2016

On DeShon Elliot, Cheap Shots and Texas Football Fans

On Sunday Texas beat Notre Dame in what many are describing as an instant-classic type game, complete with several lead changes and dramatic incidents, perhaps none more so than in the third quarter when Notre Dame were threatening. Torri Hunter Jnr (yes, that Torii Hunter!) looked certain to score a crucial touchdown when he was hit by DeShon Elliot.

Here's the hit



Reviewing the social media and subsequent news reports, the hit was dirty. The general consensus is that the referees and the replay booth simply missed the fact that Elliot clearly made contact high, to Hunter's head, and the play should have been ruled 'Targeting'.

Naturally one group had a serious view the other way, a view they were not shy about sharing or defending. I shared the hit on Twitter shortly after the event, and commented that it looked very dirty, to me. I was instantly assaulted by a dozen or so Texas fans, who used various types of colorful language to disagree with me. They touched all the usual topics in their tweets, homophobia, racism and so forth. The usual. I dealt with Texas football fans before, when I had the audacity to suggest that Jonny Manziel was not going to work out in the NFL. Let's just say I know what to expect from Texan college football fans.

Out of morbid curiosity I browsed down through the acidic timelines of the knuckle dragging clowns that assaulted me on Twitter, just to see what level of cretin was behind the vitriol. Every single one of the dozen or so I reviewed had the following attributes. They were all white males and looked generally between 30-60 or so, although one kid looked like he was about 12. Our outlier! They were all unabashed Texas Longhorn fans, no shock there of course. Interestingly, and perhaps not wildly surprising given their pathetic usage of the English language, they were all clear Trump fans also, half of them belching this out for all to see on their Twitter biography.

What was most interesting of all, each and every one of them had a clearly stated view on the whole Colin Kaepernick mess. I will give you one guess which way they voted on that one. To a person, they rebuked the San Francisco QB for not showing respect with his actions. These angry individuals demanded respect to be shown to the American anthem.

Respect.

Just not in football. Just not to me. Just not to Notre Dame. Just not to Tori Hunter Jnr, who has been mocked relentlessly by Texas fans and described as a 'woman' for not 'taking his hit' and shutting up.

Respect would seem to have certain caveats added to it, if this little cross section (and I do apologize to regular, normal, nice Texan college football fans, I know you're out there too!) is anything to go by.

To finish, this was not a clean hit, by the way. It was a filthy hit, and emblematic of all the problems being experienced in both college and pro football. Tackling is the act in sports of taking a player down using your arms and body, wrapping the player up and bringing him to the ground. What Elliot did was pure thuggery, and if that's the way they're teaching tackling these days, football is going to last a couple of decades and then be gone. That's too dangerous, and there's simply no excuse for it.

Football could learn a lot from Rugby Union on this point. Rugby teaches tackling very well, and manages to be a very rough, manly sport while also generally assuring the safety of its players. They do this proactively and quite progressively, largely by teaching kids to tackle the right way, but also penalizing any hit about the shoulders or to the head region. All this and meanwhile the fan-base manages to continue to enjoy their sport without a reactive, knee-jerk complaint that the sport is turning 'soft'.

Times change, people, as does body size and the power and speed of modern athletes. The 'In my day' crew are simply showing how redundant and old their thinking is, it shouldn't take science to point out that playersare considerably bigger and faster now than 10, 20 and indeed 30 years ago. A big hit in the 70s is nothing compared to a big hit in 2016.

So funny that so many of those complaining about the softening of sports are 40 and older, in other words, generally not actually playing sports of putting themselves on the line. Added to that, those demanding respect for the national anthem have no problem showing disrespect to anyone that dares disagree with their opinions on what is a sporting tackle and what is not.

I'm not getting too wound up about this, as, first of all, Torii Hunter Jnr is apparently OK. That's the great news. On top of that, I know what side of the fence I am on in this discussion, and, I'm happy with it. Change, in life as it is in sports, is progressive and inevitable. The reason those Texas fans were so angry is, they are afraid of change, changes to their sport, changes to their society.

That is of course true except presumably for the 12 year old. He is just a clown.







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Irish National baseball team

Irish National baseball team
Team Ireland at the European Championships, Croatia, 2000.

A nice little mention for this blog on Fox Sports

A nice little mention for this blog on Fox Sports

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