The events of this weekend have brought a lot of discussion about sports rivalries after the tragic events at Saturday’s NFL exhibition game between the 49ers and the Raiders. It was a despicable display by everyone involved and is the reason I’ve never had any interest in attending a 49ers-Raiders game. My wife asked me last week if I wanted to go to Saturday’s game and I told her “Absolutely not!” I couldn’t have seen this coming, but it’s an environment that could easily be predicted to be volatile.
Obviously, high school sports are built on rivalries as well. In the Oakland Athletic League, the final week of the regular season is always rivalry week. Each school plays their closest rival, so McClymonds plays Oakland Tech, Fremont plays Castlemont and Skyline plays Oakland. Any regular reader of the blog can follow the comments and see the rivalry between Alameda and Encinal.
We have games such as the Battle of the Creek (Northgate-Las Lomas), Foothill vs. Amador Valley, Monte Vista vs. San Ramon Valley and many other great cross-town rivalries. They make sports fun, especially at the high school level. For teams in contention, often those rivalry games play a big role in their season. But even if a season isn’t going well, a win in a rivalry game can be a way to salvage a season.
These games can get intense. They are about bragging rights. Some times emotions spill over. I count myself fortunate to have not seen anything near what happened at Candlestick on Sunday happen at any of these games. Of course I’ve seen my share of fights at high school games. Some have been ugly. But hopefully this becomes a good lesson for everybody.
This kind of violence isn’t acceptable at an NFL game. Nothing near it should be close to acceptable at a high school game. Maybe it’s time to send that message out a little bit here on the blog as well. Sure, words on the Internet are nowhere near as bad as firing a gun or throwing a punch at a game, but they can be pretty silly as well. Intensity and passion for your team is expected, but let’s remember that respect for the competition of the game should be expected as well. At the end of the day, these are teenagers running around on a field for coaches that get paid pennies to dedicate so much time to the game. Most of those who comment here do a great job, but as we learned Saturday, a few bad apples can ruin things for a lot of people. Just something to keep in mind throughout this season.