Sunday, December 13, 2009

Rustbowl Rivalry Gets Out of Hand

My pal, Chris, who I've mentioned before on Bad Lawyer, brought my attention to this report from the Akron Beacon Journal about the fisticuffs at a VFW hall near Cleveland, Ohio.  The 62 year old mother of Pittsburgh Steeler, James Harrison was arrested and charged with misdemeanor assault and battery following Thursday night's game between these long time NFL rivals.  Apparently, Harrison is a graduate of an Akron-area college.  A local VFW hall thought it was neat if the veteran's group invited and feted Mrs. Harrison and family during the televised broadcast of this game.  Things got weird, let me quote Beacon Journal writer Phil Trexler (who according to my former journalist/friend, Chris, says--must have been pinching himself over his luck in getting to write about this brawl):
"It all started, [a witness said] when the Harrison family . . . questioned the allegiance to the Steelers [of a one of the event attendees].  Punches flew and heads were struck.  [The witness] said the Harrisons started the melee when they confronted her and her friend. 'Angie was standing there and the Mama (Mildred Harrison) just all of [a] sudden flipped on her,' [the witness] said '[Mrs. Harrison told the victim] 'you ain't no Pittsburgh Steeler fan. Get the . . . (sic) out of here'.'"  The witness also said, 'I was trying to help [one of the victims of the melee] and they just started swinging on me.  They busted my head open.  I got five staples in my head.  they just all strarted jumping on me, kicking me, stomping me  Just terrible.  All for nothing.  Just a football came.'"

To be precise the witness is objectively wrong in one sense, it was not "just a football game."  This is a classic Rustbowl Rivalry, between two putatively old line NFL powerhouses that havebeen shitting on one another's hopes and dreams for years.  In one other sense, this is not "just a football game"--given a pretext to act like assholes (i.e. footbal rivalries) add alcohol and you will have combustion.   If I remember correctly this was an 8pm football game, I know fans in Pittsburgh and Cleveland like to get the drinking underway in their respective municipal lots right at daybreak--so this sort of thing is pretty common.

I was telling Chris that as colorful as this account is, the usage that caught my eye is the journalistic use of the verb, stomp.  This expression has been appearing in news accounts of violent acts that I encounter in reading local news websites throughout the country.  As Chris pointed out to me, stomp or stomping involves the use of the feet.   In this case, the Beacon Journal reporter Trexler is quoting the witness, but I've seen the usage several times recently in crime reports where it is used by the reporter to described the criminal act.  I thought the word was a slangly way of saying someone jumped on someone--I have a vision of one person prone, another jumping feet first on the other.  Is this "stomping?"

Regardless, alcohol and sporting events are intrinsically related and it's remarkable to me how much mischief and worse, tragedy, is routinely tolerated when these two elements combust.

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