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Posted on: December 23, 2010 5:35 pm
 

Defending the Alcoholics

Like 16,000 others from the Philadelphia area, I had the pleasure of attending the last Flyers home game before the holidays.
And I mean pleasure with the most sarcasm possible.

The Philadelphia Flyers, for those who don't know, currently sit atop the NHL in points with 49, one above division rival Pittsburgh Penguins. Since their late-season charge in the 2009-10 season and a Stanley Cup Finals berth, the Flyers have been one of the best teams (and at points THE best) in the NHL. Their 10-2-3 road record makes them a force even away from the confines of the Wells Fargo Arena. Offensively, they have so many weapons: Mike Richards, Danny Briere, Ville Leino, Claude Giroux, Nikolay Zherdev (when he's on his game), Scott Hartnell's assist work. Defensively, they are strong: Chris Pronger, Kimmo Timonen, Braydon Coburn, Matt Carle, and the tandem of Sergei Bobrovsky and Brian Boucher. Except for their checking line and 3rd defensive pairing, there aren't many weaknesses. So when the team comes home, fans should expect top performances against every team.

Fans should expect. Doesn't mean it happens.

When it doesn't we learn the wonders of alcohol. The Flyers had a pitiful lost Monday to the Florida Panthers 5-0, where nothing went right except for the weakest lines. Play was sloppy, no hustle, bad possessions, not capitalizing on opportunities. Pitiful is being nice. Fans during any sport start to get a little tipsy during the course of any game. Those who go to games know it's never pretty when a team is losing, especially to a Panthers team that's last in the Southeast division.

I was sitting in the upper section of the Wells Fargo Arena with my mom as a Christmas present to the both of us. Usually it's my dad and I, so this was a nice change. We sat shoulder-to-shoulder waiting for our nosebleeds to start, excited to see a game after being in the tundra of central New York for half a year. The game was doomed early on, when they gave up two easy goals in the first period, and the team looked as if they just didn't care. Some of the groups of college and recently graduated people were already drinking a lot before the collapse, and the poor play made it worse.

To my right were a group of about seven or eight guys pretty much gone by the third period. One of the bunch started off the game quiet, then as more alcohol went in, the talking increased. To the point where I don't think he could actually stop. Now, my mom wasn't happy with it because of the constant cursing, but it didn't bother me. It did, however, bother one guy sitting behind me with his (I assume) girlfriend. He was quiet all during the game. I wouldn't have even known they were there if his girlfriend didn't drop her phone under my seat. Yet, when the drunkerds start saying things like how they would be better if they had kept Geoffrey Lupul and the team plays down to their opponents, the guy with his girlfriend quietly fired back. I'd hear "stop knocking the Flyers" and "you don't know what you're talking about" loud enough so they could hear it but quiet enough that it wasn't getting him noticed. After every comment, he would make his quiet rebuke and continue to try to watch the game.

First, anyone who's been to college or a bar knows how drunk people function...or lack of function. They don't make sense. They cannot stop talking or act out of line. Most of the time, they don't realize what they do. So, holding someone personally responsible for their comments while intoxicated seems a little silly. Second, when you go to a professional and even college sporting event, you should expect there to be intoxicated people that could possibly disrupt your game experience. Finally, if you really have that much of a problem with people making comments about your team, you should either learn to deal with it or just not go to places like arenas if you cannot take the heckling. It must not be an environment that suits you.

Now, am I condoning bad behavior while intoxicated? No. Am I saying high levels of alcohol is okay? No. Am I opposed to the high availability of alcohol at sporting events? Yeah, it'd be nice to see it reduced for the good of everyone around the drunkerds. But if you're going to an event that has available alcohol, you HAVE to expect this kind of acting. Like I said, if you're not happy with it, then watch the game somewhere else.

Normally, I don't defend the drunkerds, but when you go to a game, you should be prepared. Especially when a team performs very poorly.

Posted on: September 20, 2010 11:54 am
 

College Rivalries Never Get Old

Auburn and Alabama. North Carolina and Duke. Ohio State and Michigan. Some of the greatest names in college rivalries in every college game. Every match between rival schools looks to overturn the previous match with the passion, physicality and desire to beat their "most hated" opponent. Especially in Division I sports, we always see the heated rivalry games come alive and overtake the media scene.

Unfortunately for many Division II and III schools, their heated rivalries do not make the headlines of area papers or national media, for the devotion of the media (and the money the media and businesses make) are focused in the highest tier of college sports. We see the same physical battles, heart and sometimes bloodshed spread all over the playing area in these battles as in the Division I games, but the politics of the game and the business of sport always win out in team coverage. Though I love the big-time rivalries we always see broadcast, there's one lower-level battle that I always love watching. The battle that happens along Route 13 in central New York.

These two schools have, what's considered, the "Biggest Little Game in College Sports." Every year, Ithaca College and SUNY Cortland battle for The Jug in the annual Cortaca game. Teams and fans alike pile into the stadium and watch these teams battle it out for their claim to The Jug and bragging rights for the next year. Despite the intensity of this single game, the rivalry doesn't stop there. It extends to all sports, including sports like lacrosse and soccer. 

This past Tuesday, I had the privilege to call the rivalry game between the Ithaca Bombers and Cortland Red Dragons as they fought it out on the pitch in a match between their respective men's soccer teams on Ithaca's radio station WICB 91.7 FM. I had front row seats (not to mention a higher and inside perspective) to another chapter in the Ithaca-Cortland rivalry. Both teams came into the game looking to improve a slow start to their respective seasons before conference play began. Ithaca was 0-2-2 coming into the game, losing its last two matches 1-0 and 3-0, respectively. Cortland was 1-3-1 coming off their first win of the year, looking to continue their success. It would be a huge challenge for both teams, and another great game to watch. 

In the first ten minutes of the game, after rather sloppy play by both teams in the midfield area, Ithaca put its first, and only, tally on the scoreboard with a great goal by forward Steve Kinslow. Up to this point, Ithaca had only scored twice the whole season, all of which coming in the second half. Kinslow was one of the two scorers in previous games and added his second of the season to put Ithaca up 1-0. A little after half way through the half, Cortland struck back on an amazing play. The Red Dragons had a throw-in from about 30-35 yards from the goal. Two of their defenders had taken the throw-ins all afternoon from that far, placing them ALL on the goal line. This time, one Cortland midfielder got a head on the throw at the goal line, knocking it past the keeper to knot the game at 1-1. The great plays didn't stop there.

In the second half, Cortland made a keeper change, subbing in Patrick Pidgeon at half. Despite what his name assumes, this kid could FLY. Pidgeon challenged a ball inside his 18-yard box and knocked it out...to a pursuing Bombers striker. As he was trotting backwards, and Ithaca striker fired a shot to the top of the net. Pidgeon reeled back and, in mid-flight, punched the ball over the net in “Sportscenter” fashion. I even mentioned in the broadcast “...if you got that on camera, send that into Sportscenter...”

In the end, Cortland fired a one-timer with seven minutes to play, which would decide the game at 2-1. Yet, the end result doesn’t justify the battle that ensued that afternoon. What really describes it is the play of the teams and the reactions to the win/loss. I watched as three different Ithaca players flipped, literally, after colliding with a Cortland player. I saw the same amount of injuries, even more, as the game progressed. Battles on the pitch didn’t allow for much ball control. Tempers flared as the game went on, causing at one point a yellow card to a Cortland defender who, from halfway down the field, was arguing with a referee, who was at the other end of the pitch. If it wasn’t a Division III game, media could have been all over this, despite this being “merely” a soccer game.

In the eyes of Ithaca and Cortland, this isn’t merely a soccer game. This is an on-going battle between two schools, separated only by New York’s Route 13.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com