Football and Gang Violence: American Traditions

Idon’t know, or even care, about you, but personally, I am getting pretty darned sick of the gang problem in Lake Elsinore, and I don’t care much for the Elsinore Tigers’ performance lately, either. Believe me, these two topics are related, or at least they will be when I get through with them.

I first noticed both problems a few weeks ago, when I started covering Tiger football for this here newspaper. Now, I don’t mean to burst your bubble, but when it comes to football, I am as knowledgeable as your average door hinge, and I am blatantly misleading you when, in my stories, I attempt to sound like I know what I’m talking about, because in actuality, I don’t know a clipping penalty from a hole in the ground.

But I’ve been covering football every week nonetheless, along with my pal Nick, who takes dark, blurry pictures of things for the school newspaper, The Tiger Times (motto: “We Don’t Just Report the News, We Create It”). Nick and I stand right down there on the field, posing as journalists, and we’ve learned quite a bit. First of all, we’ve learned that if you want to fit in with the football players, you have to pat them appreciatively on the bottom when they do something spectacular. Otherwise, they don’t feel needed and they become depressed. They’re all very good at bottom-patting, those football players, which is good, because everyone should have a talent, and goodness knows our football team, bless their little hearts, don’t have any other ones. They can pat one another while running, while jumping, while being tackled — it’s truly an art form. I understand they spend at least an hour of each practice going over their patting maneuvers.

It’s well known, in fact, that when someone on our team scores a touchdown, his rear end often winds up so sore from being patted by over-zealous teammates that he has to sit — well, stand — the rest of the game out. (Unless I’m mistaken, that’s why they’ve decided not to score any more than one touchdown per game for the rest of the season.)

Anyway, it was a few weeks ago, after a game, that I noticed this gang problem. Nick and I, along with our friends Eric (another one) and Aaron (you remember Aaron), went to In & Out, which apparently is the big post-game hang-out because of the wide selection of food (everything from hamburgers to cheeseburgers!) and the fact that it is the only place in Lake Elsinore open past 11 p.m. Even if the only item on their menu were dog meat with phlegm sauce, everyone would still go there. Hardly anyone actually EATS.

What most of the 475,000 people who were present were doing was standing out in the parking lot, in the street, and in the parking lot across the street. After we’d been there a few minutes, we realized: there were GANG MEMBERS there. Our first clue was when they started fighting one another, sending the surrounding crowd fleeing for its collective life. The fight quickly broke up, though, because it was announced that the police had been called. (That’s how tough and brave these gang members were — they stopped fighting at the mere THREAT of having the police show up. I bet they wet their pants when the police actually arrived.)

Anyway, my point, I think, is that the whole evening was spoiled, not just because the Tigers lost — I’ve grown accustomed to that — but because a perfectly good social experience was tainted by the violent actions of a few idiots who couldn’t take out their ill feelings toward one another at a more appropriate location. Like a football field.

This column, oddly enough, really made the football players mad. Their reaction is documented in this column. But let's face it, they had a lousy season my senior year, and who am I to try to cover that fact up?

I mention In & Out in this column. In & Out, in case you're not hip, is a chain of hamburger places in California. It is a truly California tradition, although there's now one in Las Vegas, too, which we Californians do not approve of. In & Out has GREAT hamburgers. They're 100 percent beef, and they're never frozen, and they'll make 'em any way you want 'em, and they're just heavenly. Whenever I visit California, I eat at In & Out as many times as I can before going back to the Arctic Circles and Hogi Yogis of Utah.