Tuesday, October 22, 2002
Outside the Lines: Enemy Colors and Addicted to Sports
Here's the transcript from Show 134 of weekly Outside The Lines - Enemy Colors and Addicted to Sports
SUN., OCT. 20, 2002
Host: Bob Ley Reported by: Mark Schwarz, ESPN and Tom Rinaldi, ESPN. Guests: Dr. Joel Fish, sports psychologist; Jody McDonald, host, WFAN Radio, New York.
BOB LEY, HOST- October 20, 2002. Fan passion can turn violent. For one fan, wearing a visiting team's jersey nearly got him killed.
ED ALLEN, WORE EAGLES JERSEY TO EAGLES/REDSKINS GAME- Apparently, the same guy who knocked me down pretty much grabbed me by the shirt, as I was unconscious, and beat on my face.
BUTCH BUCHANICO, DIRECTOR OF SECURITY, PHILADELPHIA EAGLES- You do take some risk, all right, walking into a venue with another team's jersey.
FAN WATCHING HOME VIDEO- Oh, no! Play man-to-man coverage!
LEY- Also this week, the point where a fan crosses over from dedicated to addicted.
CHRIS STOLZE, SPORTS FAN- Sports impacts my entire life.
KRISTAN BUSCH, CHRIS'S GIRLFRIEND- I always felt second to sports.
TOM RINALDI, OUTSIDE THE LINES- Is she second to sports?
STOLZE- At times, yes.
LEY- Today on Outside The Lines - When are fans actually addicted to sports? And the dangers of wearing enemy colors.
If you're a fan, you may find what we're about to report this morning to be disturbing and provocative. And for some, it could raise the question of whether they're watching televised images or looking into a mirror. We begin with an incident that, on its face, seems as if from a distant international dateline. This sort of thing, Americans believe, happens over there at soccer matches. Except the story you will hear this morning, just like this violent moment, occurred at an NFL game. And it can be sparked by a simple jersey.
No piece of sporting apparel is more popular than NFL jerseys. Fans by the authentic version for $250 each and wear them proudly to games, even on the road, even when that jersey represents enemy colors. That decision nearly cost one fan his life. Mark Schwarz has his story.
ALLEN- We had a good time. You know, the game was fun, the Eagles won big and, you know, the night turned bad in a hurry.
MARK SCHWARZ, OUTSIDE THE LINES- Ed Allen can't help but wonder what he could have done differently. Surely none of this would have happened had he not rearranged his morning schedule as a personal trainer in order to attend a Monday Night Football game. Surely he could have prevented it had he not stopped on his way from Philly to D.C. to pick up a new Eagles jersey, something to wear proudly at FedEx Field to show Redskins fans where his heart was.
ALLEN- And we just thought, you know, everybody was going to know we were Eagles fans. You know, that was the point.
SCHWARZ- And maybe, just maybe, had he and his three friends -- Matt Brown, John Chynoweth and Chris Soto -- all wearing Eagles jerseys, not headed for the exit mid-way through the fourth quarter, he could have avoided what they say happened next.
As they started down the exit ramp, Matt lagged behind them. A woman alerted the other three that their friend was surrounded by a group of fans wearing Redskins jerseys.
MATT BROWN, ATTENDED EAGLES/REDSKINS GAME WITH ED ALLEN- And one gentleman pushed me, pushed him back, and at that point, just chaos pretty much came about.
JOHN CHYNOWETH, ATTENDED EAGLES/REDSKINS GAME WITH ED ALLEN- We all got there and started trying to break things up, and Ed was to my left, and I saw him get tackled from the side and fall over onto his back and basically hit his head, bounced off the ground. It was a pretty hard hit. It kind of sounded like an eggshell breaking.
ALLEN- Apparently, the same guy who knocked me down pretty much grabbed me by the shirt, as I was unconscious, and just beat on my face.
SCHWARZ- Moments later, Redskins fan Carl Sears decided to leave the game with his 14-year-old son.
CARL SEARS, WITNESS- We walked about 50 yards down the ramp, and we came across a guy who was totally flat out and unconscious on the concrete. And I initially thought he was a Redskins fan because he had a basically white jersey, but he was covered in blood. And that's why I thought he was a Redskins fan.
CHYNOWETH- Somebody was holding his neck for him so we could turn him over onto his side because the blood seemed to be running back down his throat, so he was having a hard time breathing at this point.
SEARS- It appeared to me that his head had been smashed on the concrete because his head was completely split open. He was covered in blood. And I really did -- I was fearful that it could have been a brain hemorrhage, or I was concerned for his very life.
SCHWARZ- Allen suffered several fractures to his face, requiring three hours of facial reconstructive surgery. Two titanium plates were inserted below his eyes, and his broken jaw was wired shut. Since the incident, Allen has lost 20 pounds and endured short-term memory loss. Dr. Eric Marchant, who performed the surgery, says that with just a few more punches, Allen's injuries could have been even worse.
DR. ERIC MARCHANT, PERFORMED RECONSTRUCTIVE FACIAL SURGERY ON ED ALLEN- And anything could have happened. I mean, he could have been more seriously injured -- I mean, serious brain damage, more than just a concussion but permanent brain injury, death.
SCHWARZ- Allen's mother, Pat, was forced to feed her 26-year-old son baby food. She maintains Ed did nothing wrong. He simply wore an Eagles jersey to a Redskins game in Washington.
PAT ALLEN, ED ALLEN'S MOTHER- Why wouldn't he wear the team that he loves? That's what he's loved since he's a little boy. He's a Philadelphia sports fan all the way.
SCHWARZ- You think that that was the only reason that you were the guy they picked?
ALLEN- That's the only reason I could see, yes.
SCHWARZ- Were you taunting anybody?
ALLEN- No. No.
SCHWARZ- No verbal exchange with anyone?
ALLEN- No. We were proud Eagles fans. You know, we just won by 30.
SCHWARZ- Had you guys been drinking a little bit during the game?
ALLEN- Yes. We had a couple, you know, casually drinking during the game.
ALLEN- Just -- yes, just beer.
SCHWARZ- Was anybody inebriated in your group?
ALLEN- Of the four of us? No. No.
SCHWARZ- Prince George's County police interviewed Ed Allen for the first time more than three weeks after the incident. At first, police indicated they had a suspect, but they still have not made an arrest. The Redskins declined comment, calling it a police matter. A team spokesman blamed the crowd control issues on the presence of an unusual number of Eagles fans.
BUCHANICO- There's problems all over the league. That's why there's guys like me.
SCHWARZ- Butch Buchanico, a Philly cop for 31 years, is now the director of security for the Eagles.
BUCHANICO- You do take some risk, all right? I'm not -- you know, walking into a venue, all right, with another team's jersey on? We here at Veterans Stadium minimize that risk -- you understand that? By aggressive patrol, by watching these people, by calling -- calling the information in.
SCHWARZ- If a Cowboys fan calls to warn Buchanico that he's coming to the Vet wearing Dallas colors, Buchanico says he won't try to talk him out of it.
BUCHANICO- I'm just going to say, "Give me your name, your seat number, and I'll put two six-foot five, 300-pound highway patrol cops up there in boots to watch you because I'm going into the bull ring, and I'm going to wave my red underwear in front of that bull, and I want you to protect me, all right? That's what you're telling me.
SCHWARZ- Buchanico says his security team will go undercover to protect fans brash enough to wear enemy colors.
BUCHANICO- The next guy that you want to bust on that has Dallas Cowboys jersey ought to be a cop or a security guy or the next woman you see with a New York Giants tight sweater on might be a security guard.
SCHWARZ- Some other NFL teams have publicly acknowledged the potential risk fans assume by wearing visiting team colors into traditionally hostile territory. The Steelers and Browns organizations, aware of that passionate rivalry, issued a press release prior to their September 29th game warning fans that aggressive behavior would not be tolerated and that their safety would be ensured.
Ed Allen says he won't be heading back to an NFL stadium any time soon. He's learned the hard way why fanaticism sometimes turns to violence.
ALLEN- I guess I should have thought about it. But I mean, it's a shame that, you know, something like that would put you within a few shots of your life.
LEY- To consider the issue of fan violence and enemy colors, we say good morning to Joel Fish. He is a sports psychologist who has worked with, among others, the Philadelphia Eagles and the Phillies and the U.S. women's national soccer team. He joins us this morning from Philadelphia.
Good morning, Joel.
JOEL FISH, PH.D., SPORTS PSYCHOLOGIST- Good morning, Bob.
LEY- Putting aside the issue, I guess, of alcohol and accepting the account of what happened at FedEx several weeks ago, how does something like this happen?
FISH- Well, there's such passion involved with sports, and sometimes that passion as a fan comes out in great ways, and sometimes it comes out in really ugly ways. I think there's so much emphasis on winning now, too, that in the heat of the competitive moment, sometimes fans lose perspective. And they identify with their team so much -- they say, "We won," "We lost" -- that in the heat of the moment, some fans get blurred in what role they're playing. Am I an observer? Am I a participant? Is that person the opponent, or is that person the enemy?
When alcohol gets involved, you got 60,000 fans revved up, there's an increase in incidents like the one you've been describing.
LEY- Is this getting worse?
FISH- Oh, definitely. And the danger thing -- the dangerous thing is it's happening more with youth sports and not just professional sports. In the professional ranks, though, I think what you see also is a mob mentality. You get 60,000 people together, and that energy can come out in great ways or it can come out in really ugly ways. And I think we've seen that ugliness come out even when teams win championships. So there's been an increase because I think at some level, fans are also thinking, "If I pay my money, anything goes." And now the envelope keeps getting stretched, and we see more and more extreme behavior.
LEY- Well, that certainly relates to our second topic this morning. Joel, sit tight. We'll be back with you in just a second, as we move to a less mild but perhaps more widespread fan behavior, fans taking their devotion to the point of obsession, perhaps even addiction.
SCOTT STOLZE, SPORTS FAN- If I stopped watching and taking part in sports, as a fan, part of me would die.
LEY- It's one of the classic scenes in cinema. In Barry Levinson's movie "Diner," Eddie, the ultimate Baltimore Colts fan, administers a sports quiz to his fiancee. Elise had to score a 65 or the wedding would be called off. That was fiction -- sort of.
These are facts. A family with the last name of "Arena" named a newborn son Joe Louis. Several couples have named their child "Espn" after this network. And there is a Web site that calculates the right time to conceive a child to avoid having the birth of the baby interfere with a major sporting event. When sports is that important, has it become an addiction?
Here's Tom Rinaldi.
FAN ON HOME VIDEO- No! No! No! I said...
TOM RINALDI, OUTSIDE THE LINES- If you plead and beg for your team to hear you through your TV set...
FAN ON HOME VIDEO- ... play man to man coverage!
FAN BURNING 49ERS JERSEY- The road to the Super Bowl starts tonight, baby!
RINALDI- ... if you add an opposing team jersey to your tailgating menu...
MEMORABILIA COLLECTOR- I got Emmett Smith, Barry Sanders, Dan Marino. Here's an old helmet a guy give me that..
RINALDI- ... if your modest home is a makeshift warehouse for your memorabilia collection, then maybe -- just maybe -- you're obsessed with sports.
FAN ON HOME VIDEO- Now you are screwed!
KEVIN QUIRK, AUTHOR- They're hooked, at least to a degree, on the drama of sports. And drama to me is the drug of sports.
RINALDI- Kevin Quirk has seen evidence of his own. A self-proclaimed former sports addict, he is the author of "Not Now, Honey, I'm Watching the Game." His research found that many die-hard fans show patterns parallel to the worst types of addictive behavior.
QUIRK- While it's not an addiction, you know, like alcoholism or chemical dependency, it impacts our lives. There is a potential down side to being a devoted sports fan.
TODD STOLZE, SPORTS FAN- We do have a life, but sports is a big part of our life, and we're not going to apologize for that.
There's somebody I've been saying we should give the nod to for...
CHRIS STOLZE, SPORTS FAN- No, no!
CHRIS STOLZE- I don't like Chelios.
TODD STOLZE- Why?
SCOTT STOLZE, SPORTS FAN- He's a -- he's a dirty bum!
TODD STOLZE- Scott, he's been playing...
RINALDI- The Stolze brothers, Todd, Scott and Chris, work and live in New England. Each has a full-time white-collar job. But they spend as much time working on their Web site, noloadsports, an all-consuming outlet for what they admit is their all-consuming obsession.
TODD STOLZE- The Rams got knocked off in the first round...
CHRIS STOLZE- What are you talking about, though?
SCOTT STOLZE- Chris, come on! Chris...
TODD STOLZE- Like, the Giants deserve to...
RINALDI- Imagine for me a day or a week without sports.
SCOTT STOLZE- If it's a week, it might as well be a year. If it's a year, it might as well be for the rest of my life. I wouldn't go a week without watching sports if I had an ounce of control over it.
RINALDI- Most of us measure our lives in personal milestones or intimate moments. Not the Stolzes.
CHRIS STOLZE- Best moment of my life? In 1996 Sugar Bowl, Florida 52, Florida State 20. Bar none.
KRISTAN BUSCH, CHRIS' GIRLFRIEND- Well, what, is sports more important than us, than our relationship?
RINALDI- Kristan Busch is Chris Stolze's girlfriend and has endured through his obsession.
BUSCH- It was always -- I always felt second to sports.
RINALDI- Is she second to sports at times?
CHRIS STOLZE- At times, yes. Yes. And I'm sure she would say that.
BUSCH- My concern is we're dating now. I can break up and leave. He doesn't live with me. How will it be if we got married? Will that fanaticism, craziness about sports, you know, come into play every day? And that's when you can't do anything about it.
QUIRK- The guys often would say, "But you knew this about me." Well, what's true is, she might have known it as a fact, but she didn't know what it would look like and feel like over the course of time.
RINALDI- Ralph and Paula Von Rosendahl, who've been together for more than 20 years, can relate. Their house includes a shrine to the New York Giants. Both are die-hard fans. Yet when they took a vacation to Super Bowl XXXV and their Giants lost to the Ravens, Ralph ended the holiday abruptly.
PAULA VON ROSENDAHL, NEW YORK GIANTS FAN- He just wanted to go home, get out of the whole area. And he really didn't talk about it for a week. I mean we could not discuss anything about the game. It was horrible being with him.
RINALDI- How long did it take you to overcome that loss?
RALPH VON ROSENDAHL, NEW YORK GIANTS FAN- I mean, I can't say for sure it was a month, but it wasn't the next week or the next two weeks.
RINALDI- If you thought such sporting dedication was strictly a man's place, think again. Brigit Slyck works in her office but watches sports all day.
BRIGIT SLYCK, SPORTS FAN- It's just more important to me than other things in my life. It sounds kind of twisted, but that's just how it is. I just -- and people -- my parents especially, friends, they just don't get it.
KATHY BUONACCORSO, BRIGIT'S MOTHER- A lot of people come to me and complain about Brigit's obsession, and I'm the mother, and no matter what, I will stick up for her when it comes to that. But there are times when I, you know, get frustrated.
RINALDI- For the sports-obsessed, not even a family wedding rates full attention if NASCAR is on TV.
BRIGIT SLYCK- I was next in line in the family to get married, so I was supposed to be there for the bouquet toss.
PEGGY SLYCK, BRIGIT'S MOTHER-IN-LAW- I'm looking all over for her. She's nowhere to be found.
BRIGIT SLYCK- I didn't even know it was going on. I was at the bar, watching the race.
PEGGY SLYCK- She comes walking in, and I says, "Where were you?" She says, "Oh, I was watching some sports on the TV." And I'm going, "You were supposed to be out here," you know, "catching the bouquet!"
RINALDI- If you're watching this, you're more than likely a sports fan. But what is the difference between fan and freak, devotion and obsession? Judge for yourself.
BRIGIT SLYCK- Damn it!
TODD STOLZE- It's a power play, Scott!
SCOTT STOLZE- Well, can I get some volume, please?
FAN ON HOME VIDEO- What do you do now, Jon Gruden!
LEY- Fans going too far, even to the point of addiction.
We welcome Jody McDonald. He is a talk show host on WFAN radio in New York City. He's joining us this morning from Philadelphia. And we are rejoined by Joel Fish, sports psychologist.
Good morning again.
Jody, you talk to callers every day. You take the temperature in New York City. How obsessive, how addicted can fans become?
JODY MCDONALD, HOST, WFAN RADIO (NEW YORK)- Bob, I'll buy into obsessive. I won't buy into addictive. But I think the key is you got to follow the money. In the first piece you ran, $250 for a jersey, $85 for a ticket, $9 for a beer. People are making a financial commitment to going to a game these days, and they feel that, "If I'm going to spend that kind of money, I'm going to get my money's worth." And that's why I think they kick it up to the next level, they go above and beyond. And when it gets to violence, that's when you know you've reached the obsessive zone.
LEY- But Joel, you do see addiction in this, at some points, don't you?
FISH- Well, I do. And the vast majority of fans aren't that far down the line. There's a difference between an interest and a hobby and...
LEY- All right, where's the line, though?
FISH- ... and a passion...
LEY- Where's the line?
FISH- ... and an addiction. The line is when, like in addiction, it begins to negatively affect other parts of your life, like your social life, like your work life, and when it's controlling you, you're not controlling it anymore. Fans that I've seen who are addicted can't really have a choice. They must. They have to watch an event. That's the point where now you're crossing the line into an addiction.
MCDONALD- But they make the games part of their social life. If they think that it's that important, they have that much fun with it, then their social life can become attending games, going to games, watching games, getting together with buddies to experience games together. Yes, can it go over the top and can you lose loved ones and family members? Yes, but at times, it's just a bunch of guys getting together and having fun and that becomes their social life.
FISH- I think there's different motivations. There's some people for whom, like you say, Jody, it's a form of entertainment. For other people, they just love the intrigue of sports. But for some people, it really does become the center of their universe, and there is a void that's filled by sports. And those are the people that I think we can start to call addicted. It's where -- it's that center-of-the-universe quality, and it's more than just a social event.
LEY- Jody, I was at a wedding about six months ago where the father of the groom led the entire reception in the Jets chant. Sources tell me that at your vows in the last several years, the priest on his cassock had a Cowboys pin. Those are cute stories, but are they a window on something that can go deeper?
MCDONALD- Oh, sure. And thanks for opening up an almost 10-year-old wound, Bob.
MCDONALD- My wife wasn't too pleased with that, but it was the priest's choice, not mine. Yes, when it gets involved in the family, when it's taking away from the family, then that's when it's become obsessive and over-the-top. But I think that a lot of fans can control it. I don't want to give you the old cliché "One bad apple shouldn't spoil the whole bunch," but sometimes it does come to that.
LEY- What's the media's role in this, Jody?
MCDONALD- That's where I think the media has to at least take partial blame -- ESPN, sports talk radio and the like -- home field advantage. Twenty years ago, nobody talked about home field advantage the way it's talked about now. So when people go down to the games and spend these huge amount of money, they think they're actually part of the team, that they are the 12th man in football, sixth man in basketball. And then the team wins, they win. When the team loses, they lose. They feel they have to be so loud and so into it that the players can feel it on the field, that the other team can actually evoke the emotion of fear. That's when it goes too far. That's when you can get violence in the stands. That's when you can have things happen like you showed in your first piece today.
LEY- Joel, you said earlier that violence was getting worse. What about just the non-violent aspects of people locked in totally to sports talk radio, to networks like this one?
FISH- Well, I think the access to sport is more than ever before. You can listen to sports or watch it 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. So it's much easier for it to become personal. Like Jody just said, half of his callers are going to say "We won," "We lost." And I think more and more, there are people who sort of over-identify with what's going on, and so their moods can literally be affected by whether the team wins or losses. Why? Because they feel like they are literally part of the game. I think the media and the access to our sports has made it a lot easier for some people to get their role blurred in this whole situation.
LEY- Well, we heard about the Giants fan, Jody, that cut short his vacation after the Giants were pummeled by the Ravens. The Yankees knocked out early in the playoffs. I mean, do you almost feel like a suicide counselor at times --I exaggerate here, but --taking calls from people who seriously are impacted emotionally by this?
MCDONALD- For some, but for others, Bob, it doesn't even set in. And there are some people that are so die-hard Yankee fan and believe because the Yankees have been in such a good mode over the last seven years that it didn't really happen. How many days to pitchers and catchers? It's only a matter of time before it starts again, and the Yankees will be back. And that's the most important thing in their life is the New York Yankees didn't actually lose, they were just put off for another three or four months. And they'll call back -- some people won't call now that called on a weekly basis during the baseball season until February, when pitchers and catchers show up, and they'll be guaranteeing another World Series victory.
LEY- And what about those people, Joel?
FISH- Well, I think those people, again, have around-the-clock, 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week interest. I think it's very rare that it impacts so negatively on a relationship, though, that it's going to be the reason why it breaks up with the relationship. Most cases I've seen is, usually, the sports fanatic will -- the spouse will say, "Well," you know, "that's the problem," but it's usually something else. And there's usually another reason for the incompatibility, and it's not just because one person loves to watch sports all day long.
LEY- Gentlemen, thank you very much. Jody Mac -- Jody McDonald -- thanks for joining us. And Dr. Joel Fish, as well, thanks for joining us.
Next up, we'll have an update on how the disruption to sports in the Washington, D.C., area has continued this weekend, as we continue Outside The Lines.
We reported last week on the empty fields caused by the Beltway sniper, who may have struck again last night. Yesterday in two Virginia counties, high school football games were played at locations that were known only to the players and to the coaches and the officials, playing fields, in some cases, over 100 miles from home. Some Maryland schools resume outdoor sports tomorrow, but game times and sites will not be released to the public.
You can check us out on line. The key word is OTLWeekly at ESPN.com for our library of program transcripts and streaming video. We look forward to your e-mail on our topics today, "Enemy Colors" and "Addicted to Sports." And our address is email@example.com.