Saturday, July 23, 2011

The High Cost of Cheering for the Other Side

For those of you that have not followed news in Los Angeles recently, you may have missed a story that captured national attention albeit only for day. Police recently charged two men this past Friday in the beating of a San Francisco Giants fan outside Dodger Stadium, accusing them of a savage attack that included cutting the victim's tongue and disfiguring his face.
Cutting his tongue and disfiguring his face...The arrests came exactly two months after an emotional Police Chief Charlie Beck trumpeted the arrest of the initial suspect in the attack on Bryan Stow, a paramedic who suffered a brain injury and remains hospitalized in serious condition. There was one man, Giovanni Ramirez, who was dismissed as a suspect Friday and subsequently released from jail. "In policing, it's just as important to exonerate the innocent as it is to implicate the guilty," Beck said Friday. "I want to tell the world that Giovanni Ramirez is no longer a suspect in this case."
Prosecutors are charging Louie Sanchez, 29, and Marvin Norwood, 30, both of Rialto, with one count each of mayhem, assault by means likely to produce great bodily injury, and battery with serious bodily injury, all felonies. Both were being held on $500,000 bail after being arrested Thursday. The complaint alleged both men personally inflicted great bodily injury on Stow, "causing him to become comatose due to brain injury and to suffer paralysis." The mayhem count alleged that they "did cut and disable the tongue, and put out an eye and slit (Stow's) nose, ear and lip."
All in the family...Ms. Doreen Sanchez, believed to be the sister of Louie Sanchez, had been arrested on suspicion of being an accessory after the fact then released. She was not charged. The LAPD has not released details on the evidence against the two men but said more details would be released Monday. The attack has captured national attention as the Los Angeles Police Department and the Dodgers sought to ease fears about violence at the storied stadium.
Stow, 42, is a resident of Santa Cruz and the father of two children, remains hospitalized in San Francisco. His family said in a blog post Friday that he appeared to mouth his last name and might have tried to give a thumbs-up. On Monday, he underwent emergency surgery for fluid buildup in his head. Doctors have kept him under heavy sedation since the attack to prevent seizures. Police released no details about the latest arrests in the case until the news conference. The delay came in sharp contrast to the fanfare surrounding the arrest of Ramirez on May 22. However, the investigation faltered after Ramirez provided almost a dozen statements from friends and family members saying he was nowhere near Dodger Stadium on the night of March 31. Ramirez also volunteered for and passed a polygraph test. No charges were filed against him in the beating, but he was returned to prison for a parole violation — having access to a firearm.
Despite several “low-level” run-ins with the law, neighbors described the accused men as friendly, baseball-loving fathers. A neighbor, Ms. Danielle Dickson said Louie Sanchez and his family are quiet, friendly people, with whom she had exchanged greetings but had little other contact. She often saw Sanchez playing catch on the family's lawn with a woman and boy whom she believed to be his wife and son. Sanchez also was charged Friday with two misdemeanor counts of battery stemming from a separate incident the same day as the beating.
Why Now...As many of you know I often officiate hockey at a variety of levels across the country. It is something I enjoy doing and take great pride in. Recent medical ailments have prevented me from doing much of it this last year but the sounds and sights while acting in this capacity still fill my do the negative ones. I have seen plenty of folks like Sanchez and Norwood in the stadiums and rinks I have worked. You too have seen them...they are usually the out of shape guy or gal yelling at his or her kid to do something that they as a parent (or when they were a child) could never do.
Trust me on this folks; what happened to Bryan Stow is a travesty and I hope Sanchez and Norwood get the electric chair for what they did to this guy...but I see this type of response weekly when I am working games. I am not saying that it gets to the level of what happened to Bryan Stow but if you want to see the decline of Western Civilization then please head down to your local hockey rink and watch the parents (not the players) in the stands, around the snack-bar and in the parking lot! It is no longer about kids being violent on the ice – officials have progressed enough to control that – it’s the vigilante soccer mom or disgruntled father who have all of a sudden turned “hockey commentator” that have raised the stakes in officiating a game. As officials we spend as much time watching the theatrics in the stands with irate and ignorant parents showing their true colors as we do conducting “game management” activities.   
If you have a moment I have included a few clips from “You Tube” that expand on what I am saying. In each you will see either children emulating parents or parents just “going off the deep end” for no reason other than being caught up in the “moment” and out of sheer ignorance. I can’t tell you the number of times I have walked through the crowd in the lobby after a tough game and looked at the parents – all of whom were acting like poorly behaved children calling for blood – and now all of them wanting to say something but not having the intestinal fortitude to do so.
You see, in the arena there is a level of protection afforded them by the “glass” which rises above the boards...but in the lobby the “invincibility quotient” goes away and they are left with the fact that they do not want to fight an official! Countless times this happens daily across the country and the parallels to what happened to Bryan Stow can be drawn accordingly.  These parents – afraid to act – are merely seconds away from losing it and committing acts just like Sanchez and Norwood. When my wife would come to the game invariably some "Ass Clown” – a term of endearment officials use for the obnoxious parents in the stands - will make themselves known to either myself or a member of the officials crew by questioning our abilities, ethnicity or overall presence on the ice...and in doing so automatically guarantees himself/herself a first class ticket out of the rink area!
 I will say this – I always make this a “special event” for the Ass Clown by stopping the game, sending players to their bench and then singling out the individual so that every person in the building knows who and why he or she will no longer be allowed to watch the game. Usually this calms everyone done and keeps the game in context...because that is what it is...A GAME!
Bryan Stow suffered what will be irreversible brain damage as well as now an inability to function as a productive member of society because he wore a uniform of the opposing team. I can only hope that Sanchez and Norwood pay a heavy price for their ignorance and depraved conduct because that is the only way people will get the message.
Hockey season is right around the corner...I can’t wait!  Enjoy the videos and if you recognize someone or yourself in these...take a deep breath...and realize what you are doing....and how stupid you look!       

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