"We are not gladiators, and this is not the Roman Colosseum."
The now famous and widely applauded stern comment made by Kansas City Chiefs offensive lineman Eric Winston (h/t ESPN) in regards to Chiefs fans cheering when maligned quarterback Matt Cassel went down with an injury in KC's 9-6 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in Week 5.
If you're a sportswriter, chances are, you love sports.
You were and probably still are, a fan.
Though the duty of objectivity is ubiquitous, an allegiance to some team never fully fades away.
The point is, I, myself, fully understand the feeling of overwhelming frustration and sheer discontent when a player on your team plays so miserably that you momentarily and involuntarily lose your normally unwavering grasp on reality and are filled with an almost sinister joy when he goes down with injury.
(As a life-long Bills fan, trust me, it's happened.)
Football players seem like larger-than-life figures 99 percent of the time, and they're playing a sport for our entertainment, so the gladiator analogy is clearly spot-on.
The only difference—and it's rather substantial—is that football is a game.
Oh, and Matt Cassel, he's not a video-game character.
He's a person.
The fact that Winston felt the need to remind us of that is embarrassing in itself.
Booing is one thing, actually, it's a fundamental part of professional athletics. Cassel has been bad this season, and the Chiefs have been rather disappointing. So boo on, KC fans.
You pay for your ticket, you have right to voice your displeasure.
Obviously, no one's stopping you if you decide to cheer when the quarterback on your team is injured, but then, who looks like the mindless idiot?
Better yet, let's discuss a role reversal.
I have an inkling that the same brilliant fans who cheered when Cassel went down, wouldn't take too kindly to cheers when Haloti Ngata knocked them out with a head injury.
You know, something that can hinder your real life after the game is over.
Time to get a grip on reality, people.
Believe me, I know—the weekly fate of your NFL team can weigh on you, heavily. It can lift your spirits, depress you to new lows, but thankfully, it's just a game.
Remember that before you cheer the next time a person, I mean, a player is injured.